GANGSTA Granny was brought to life in a captivating opening performance at The Alhambra Theatre in Bradford on Thursday night.

The show, based on the book by David Walliams, was brought to the stage by Birmingham Stage Company in a charming tale performed before an audience featuring families with children.

The cast, led by Justin Davies as 11-year-old Ben and Isabel Ford as Granny, kept the crowd entertained throughout with barrels of laughs, hilarious dancing sequences and poignant emotional moments as the story deals with very real life issues about the elderly.

Gangsta Granny tells the tale of Ben who reluctantly is sent to spend every Friday night playing Scrabble with his 'boring and cabbage-loving' Granny while his mum and dad go ballroom dancing.

Davies, who captures the role of the reluctant youngster almost perfectly, soon discovers his Granny has a 'secret' when he discovers a biscuit tin full of jewels on the shelf.

In a fantastically entertaining scene, Granny reveals her life as The Black Cat, an international jewel thief. This is a brilliant bit of acting by Ford as she draws in both Ben and the audience with her tales.

In a side story, Ben's dance-loving parents, played by Jess Nessling and Jason Furnival, get their son signed up to an under-12s dance competition.

Ben, however, has his sights set on planning the "crime of the century", an elaborate heist to steal the Crown Jewels, with his suddenly cool "Gangsta Granny".

The second act opens as we see plumber wannabe Ben's plan to break into the Tower of London through the sewers unfold, despite efforts by nosy neighbour Mr Parker, played brilliantly by Furnival.

However, before that the highly entertaining scene featuring the dance competition sees a great performance by Irfan Damani as former 'Strictly Stars Dancing' dancer Flavio Flavioli.

He playfully interacts and energises the crowd saying "Are you ready to Rumba?" and "I love you all, even more than Leeds."

The Birmingham company's excellent sense of timing between scenes and smooth and almost effortless costume changes keep the two-hour show moving along.

Stage crews utilised some fantastic stage props and sound to portray Ben and Granny crossing the River Thames in wetsuits.

In the Tower of London scene, Ben and Granny are confronted by the Queen, also played by the versatile Nessling. Granny comes clean about "pretending to be an international thief and getting carried away" in an effort to "spend more time with her grandson".

The show ends with some touching moments but the actors all received raucous applause for a highly entertaining performance. My children loved it and came away with smiles on their faces.

Gangsta Granny continues at the Alhambra with a performance tonight at 7pm and tomorrow with a 2.30pm matinee and a 7pm showing.

To book tickets, click here