Annie -- Bradford Alhambra

Not many musicals can last almost three hours yet still keep hundreds of younger children in their seats and well-behaved.

But when this foolproof family show opened on Monday, the only sounds from my two were singing and excited applause.

They remained spellbound throughout this unashamedly soppy tale of an orphan girl winning the heart of a lonely billionaire.

Most of the story is as sugary as treacle but there are a few hard edged scenes alongside the big production numbers to remind us this is the 1930s Depression.

There are many terrific songs, belted out by children and adults, both in great form, including Hard Knock Life, NYC and Never Fully Dressed Without a Smile.

Our little leading lady Emma Hopkins was superb, with Ruth Madoc great fun as the drunken Miss Hannigan even if she didn't quite capture the character.

* Tonight/tomorrow, phone 01274 432000.

David Knights