'Annie Live!' Receives Praise from Viewers on Social Media: 'Best Live Show in Recent Memory'

Celina Smith, Harry Connick Jr., Taraji P. Henson, Nicole Scherzinger, Tituss Burgess and Megan Hilty starred in Annie Live!, which premiered on NBC Thursday

ANNIE LIVE! -- Pictured: (l-r) Celina Smith as Annie, Harry Connick, Jr. as Daddy Warbucks, Nicole Scherzinger as Grace Farrell -- (Photo by: Virginia Sherwood/NBC)
Photo: Virginia Sherwood/NBC

Annie Live! went off without a hitch on Thursday, ultimately winning over viewers during its three-hour run.

Live televised musical adaptions are not a new phenomenon as Grease, Hairspray and The Wiz previously made a splash on the small screen with star-studded casts.

In many cases, these live productions — including The Sound of Music, Peter Pan and The Little Mermaid — have generated mixed reviews from critics and fans alike. But NBC's production of Annie on Thursday — starring newcomer Celina Smith as well as Harry Connick Jr., Taraji P. Henson, Nicole Scherzinger, Tituss Burgess and Megan Hilty — was a big hit.

Viewers largely provided positive feedback for the musical on Twitter. As one fan said Annie Live! was "definitely the best live show in recent memory," a second viewer called the production "outstanding."

Fans also praised specific performances from the all-star cast.

As Henson, 51, performed "Little Girls," one Twitter user said the actress was "EATIN [sic] THIS ROLE UP." Another viewer called Smith "amazing" as she belted out the lyrics to "Maybe," while a third fan said the young starlet "without a doubt was born to slay this role."

Scherzinger, 43, "did such a wonderful job playing Grace," another fan tweeted.

Viewers also enjoyed seeing "It's the Hard-Knock Life" performed by Smith's Annie and the fellow orphan girls. One fan said the children "ate" the song's accompanying dance routine, which included step-dance moves.

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Ahead of the big day, Smith opened up about what "a blessing" it was to be a part of NBC's Annie production.

"Being introduced to Annie is probably the best things that ever happened to me acting-wise," she told theGrio on Wednesday. "And I am so excited and so grateful that I'm able to share this role!"

Henson also told the publication that appearing in the live musical marks her return to the stage, which she called "home."

ANNIE LIVE! -- Pictured: (l-r) Nicole Scherzinger as Grace Farrell, Harry Connick, Jr. as Daddy Warbucks, Celina Smith as Annie, Taraji P. Henson as Miss Hannigan, Tituss Burgess as Rooster Hannigan, Megan Hilty as Lily St. Regis -- (Photo by: Virginia Sherwood/NBC)
Virginia Sherwood/NBC

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ANNIE LIVE! -- Pictured: (l-r) Megan Hilty as Lily St. Regis, Taraji P. Henson as Miss Hannigan, Titus Burgess as Rooster Hannigan -- (Photo by: Virginia Sherwood/NBC)
Virginia Sherwood/NBC

"I always feel home on the stage. When I was second-guessing or questioning whether I was still in love with this thing called 'TV and Film,' I said, 'the tell-tale will be how I feel when I go back to the stage,'" the Oscar nominee said.

Henson said she still feels more comfortable doing theatre than being in films and TV, a medium in which she has been incredibly successful.

"The stage is a spiritual place for me, it really is," she added. "I feel more at home in a theater on a stage than I do with the foreign cold camera looking at me."

Annie Live! premiered Thursday on NBC.

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