Best known for portraying Little Orphan Annie in the Broadway musical Annie, Andrea McArdle (b. Philadelphia, November 5, 1963) continues to thrill audiences in musicals, on television, and in cabarets from Las Vegas to New York as stunningly as she did when she was thirteen.
McArdle’s father was a statistician, her mother a legal secretary with high ambitions for her older child. Andrea took singing and dancing lessons from an early age and entered talent competitions. She was barely seven when she appeared in the Downingtown Dinner Theatre’s production of The King and I, and had a New York agent by the time she was ten. After making a number of television commercials, in 1974 she got a regular role on the soap opera Search for Tomorrow, winning an award for best daytime juvenile actress. She stayed on the show for two and a half years before being cast in the chorus of “tough girls” for the road tryouts of the new musical Annie in 1977.
One week into rehearsals, the producers decided that the original “Annie” looked too sweet and delicate, and replaced her with the tougher, “hard-knocks” McArdle, who put on the curly wig and the oversize shoes, grabbed Sandy’s leash and headed for Broadway stardom. Her performance (“Tomorrow”) won the Theatre World and Outer Critics’ Circle Awards, and she was the youngest performer ever to be nominated for a Tony® as Best Lead Actress in a Musical (ceding the win to her co-star Dorothy Loudon, playing Miss Hannigan). She led the cast again in the London West End production in 1978 and appeared a number of times on Johnny Carson and Mike Douglas, on occasion accompanied by Liberace.
Andrea McArdle took the role of young Judy Garland in the 1978 bio-picture Rainbow on NBC-TV, her only excursion into film. Since her first great Broadway success, McArdle has chosen for the most part to continue in musical theatre. She appeared in Babes in Arms (1979) in Connecticut (Goodspeed Opera House), Annie Get Your Gun (1982) in California (San Bernardino), The Fantasticks (1982) in Dallas, The Threepenny Opera (1982) in Boston, Grease (1983) in Philadelphia, Peter Pan (1986) in Long Beach, and ultimately, Starlight Express (1987) back on Broadway for two years. In 1984 she was a member, with Carol Channing and Leslie Uggams, of the pre-Broadway touring production and recording of Jerry’s Girls, a revue of songs from Jerry Herman musicals.
In the 1990s McArdle returned to Broadway in Les Misérables (1993), State Fair (1996), and Beauty and the Beast (1999), while performing intermittently in Meet Me In St. Louis, Oliver!, Cabaret, and Evita in regional theatres.
McArdle has been equally active as a solo concert and cabaret singer at hotels and casinos across the country: the King Cole Room at the St. Regis Hotel (They Say It’s Wonderful 1982), Freddy’s Supper Club, B. Smith’s (You Get What You Play For 1999), The Metropolitan Room (You Don’t Know Me 2008), and various theatres in New York City, the Claridge Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City (1989), and various venues in Las Vegas, Florida, and Minnesota. The Andrea McArdle Family Christmas concert takes place annually at the Tropicana Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City.
McArdle is married to Edd Kalehoff, the arranger and producer of her 1995 CD On Broadway. They have a daughter, Alexis Kalehoff, who performed in Les Misérables with her mother at the age of seven.