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      Martin Charnin

      Martin Charnin

      Highest Rated: Not Available

      Lowest Rated: Not Available

      Birthday: Nov 24, 1934

      Birthplace: New York, New York, USA

      Lyricist and theater director Martin Charnin's career spanned seven successful decades. However, it was his idea to base a musical on a red-headed orphan girl from the comics that secured his legacy. A New York native, he became involved in theater while attending the city's famed High School of Music & Art. After college, despite having no experience, he auditioned for the original production of "West Side Story" in 1957. He was cast in the role of Big Deal, one of the Jets, and went on a long run with the musical both on Broadway and in touring companies. He soon began putting his musical talents to use in other avenues, working on Off-Broadway revues with Julius Monk, among others, and teaming with Mary Rodgers, the daughter of Richard Rodgers, for the 1961 television musical "Feathertop" (ABC, 1961). Charnin made his Broadway debut as a songwriter, working again with Rodgers, on 1963's "Hot Spot." He later worked with the elder Rodgers on 1970's "Two by Two," starring Danny Kaye. During the early-'70s, he branched out into television as a writer, director, and producer. Charnin earned Emmy awards while working with Anne Bancroft and Mel Brooks on "Annie, the Women in the Life of a Man" (CBS, 1970) and with Jack Lemmon on "'S Wonderful, 'S Marvelous, 'S Gershwin" (NBC, 1972). He also moved into directing in the theater around the same time, including overseeing "The National Lampoon Show" in 1973, which featured future comedic stars John Belushi, Bill Murray, and Gilda Radner. While he was casting about for ideas for a musical, he found himself drawn to Harold Gray's comic strip "Little Orphan Annie" that had begun in 1924. He enlisted Thomas Meehan to write the book and Charles Strouse for the music, and the trio set to work developing the concept. The result, "Annie," debuted at Connecticut's Godspeed Opera House in 1976, before moving to Broadway in 1977. The show, which concentrated on Annie transitioning from a sketchy orphanage run by Mrs. Hannigan to being adopted by millionaire Daddy Warbucks, was an instant smash. "Annie" ran on Broadway for nearly six years and more than 2,000 performances, and the songs "Tomorrow" and "Hard Knock Life" turned into cultural touchstones. It also spawned film adaptions in 1982 and 2014. Charnin himself worked on multiple productions over the years, including a 1997 Broadway revival and a 40th Anniversary tour that ran from 2014 to 2017. After the success of "Annie," he brought a musical based on the life of baseball star Jackie Robinson,"The First" starring David Alan Grier, to Broadway. He continued directing productions through the 1980s and '90s, including "Sid Caesar & Company" in 1989 and "The Flowering Peach" in 1994. He never completely left the theater during his life, working on Off-Broadway projects and serving as the Artistic Director for Seattle's Showtunes Theater Company, which specialized in reviving lesser-known musicals. Charnin died on July 6, 2019, after suffering a heart attack, at 84.



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      - 1970