Annie The Alhambra

As grey skies descend on a particularly rain-lashed August, a cheery little girl singing the words “The sun will come out tomorrow” is just the tonic we need.

I’ve managed to get through life without ever having seen the musical Annie, either on stage or screen, and having always imagined it to be schmaltz on toast, I didn’t really feel I was missing out.

But I found myself enjoying this charming rags-to-riches tale about a little girl stuck in an orphanage in downtown depression-hit New York, who dreams that one day her parents will rescue her.

There’s plenty of schmaltz, of course, but it’s all delightfully old-fashioned and you’d need a heart of stone not to fall for Annie and her dog, Sandy. The mutt was real, played by an impressively well trained dog called Danny, who melted the audience’s hearts, although I was more concerned about whether or not he could see through his long hair.

And plucky little orphan Annie was beautifully played by Victoria Sian Lewis. The young actress was on stage practically the whole time and her relentless optimism was infectious.

Her impressive numbers included the showstopper Tomorrow and I Don’t Need Anything But You, a lively duet with Daddy Warbucks. Annie’s nemesis is gin-soaked Miss Hannigan, played with perfect vaudeville-style comic timing by Su Pollard. Stumbling across the stage and belting out Easy Street and Little Girls with a voice as big as Ethel Merman’s, she was a delight. Annie’s optimism rubs off on billionaire Warbucks – a lovely performance by David McAlister – who, after inviting the girl to stay one Christmas, realises how lonely he is, rattling around in his Fifth Avenue mansion.

Nice performances too from Philip Andrew as villainous Rooster and Simone Craddock as Warbucks’ assistant, Grace. And well done to the Stage 84 youngsters who played the adorable orphans. Their gutsy performance of Hard Knock Life was a gem.

My only gripe was that the production is perhaps a little long for young children, but it’s a heartwarming show nonetheless.

Runs until Saturday.