Annie’s Daddy Warbucks, Anthony Warlow, on Battling Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and How Vocal Quality Can “Touch the Heartstrings”

Despite playing Daddy Warbucks twice already, Anthony Warlow still felt he had a lot to learn in Broadway’s latest revival of Annie.

“I had the basics under my belt, but this has been a very different situation,” Warlow told  “With the direction of James Lapine, [Annie] has been quite different, and very challenging and very wonderful at the same time.”

Warlow became a well-known theater actor in his native Australia, but is making the switch to New York with this production.  “Here I find you’re a small fish in a very large pond, whereas I’m a pretty big fish in Australia,” he noted.  “I’ve come over here with a lot of respect for the community I’ve entered, and I think that’s vital.  I was a little concerned about literally taking over a local actor’s job, but the community has actually embraced me beautifully.  It’s a really lovely experience.”

The actor has played such roles as the Phantom, Dr. Zhivago, and Enjolras from Les Miserables, but has still been able to find commonalities between the characters.  “In every role I do, I try to bring out or enhance some part of the vocal quality of the character that touches the heartstrings,” Warlow said. 

“For instance, Enjolras had a very heroic sound, which gave a thrilling essence to the character.  When I first did the Phantom in 1990, it was all about creating a character that could woo and destroy through vocals.  Zhivago was really about the blue collar sound in the core of my baritone, which is every man’s voice.  With Warbucks it’s exactly the same—this gruffness in the voice, which bleeds into the vocals, particularly for “NYC.”  Then, I’m trying to deliver the essence of the soul of the character in “Something Was Missing,” where you get more beautiful sounds from him.  Hopefully, that touches the audiences in an emotional way.”

Warlow has another layer of emotion he’s able to use in his acting after battling non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.  “I used to be a ‘yes’ man; I didn’t like to upset people, so I would try to placate people, and that was probably the worst thing I could have done, as far as my health was concerned,” he said.  “So I started to say ‘no’ as a self-preservation method.  Also, it made me want to do roles that I felt I could imbue with a signature that was mine—that I could put something of myself into this that would remind people that the emotional value of each performance is something to really savor.”

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