A black, empty stage. Lights up on Annie, a bruised and battered orphan girl whose cataract-stricken eyes have no visible pupils. Around her, other abandoned girls sleep fitfully on the dirty sweatshop floor as she sings:
Maybe far away, or maybe real nearby
Rich men are supping on hamhocks; poor men are waiting to die
In a mansion grand, or sleeping in a pile
Rich folks are smoking cigars and poor folks are choking on bile
Why does this world leave us like this?
Struggling and drowning in rivers of piss?
What will I have when I come of age?
A lousy job at minimum wage?
And yet we raise our prayers
Our futile, unheard cries
Each day a healthy one suffers
Each day a sickly one dies
Maybe one day fate
Will take me from this place
Then I’ll at last far away be
The other girls cough and vomit as the first ray of muted daylight pokes through the room’s only window. The smallest girl staggers to the window on her one good leg and opens the shade, revealing a threatening gray sky filled with industrial soot. Annie sings:
The sun’ll come out tomorrow
For the rich while we must sob in sorrow
The boot’ll come down tomorrow
As the interest piled on debt we’ve borrowed
Lays us low
When the day comes again
That’s when I struggle
I just pray for the end
Of life and pain
’Cause nothing will change
So if I don’t live to see tomorrow
What good is
It’s only another day
Just thinking about tomorrow
Makes me want to rhyme this line tomorrow
It’s my curse
And living to see tomorrow
Only proves that every new tomorrow’s
I hate you!
The other children beat her to death before she can finish her song, and they scavenge her clothing for pins and buttons they can sell on the street. Miss Hannigan enters and dumps Annie’s lifeless body down the laundry chute. And the beatings begin.