THAT slightly precocious curly ginger haired orphan was a big part of my childhood in that iconic film – and it seems little has changed in the decades since.

The Mayflower was full to the rafters of smiling little girls as Annie opened the half-term entertainment last night.

They were flagging by the close of the two-and-a-half-hour-plus performance which, while thoroughly entertaining, lacked the panache of the movie version.

The children (and that loveable dog) quite deservedly receive all the plaudits in this show. There are some beautiful ensemble sequences from the orphans – youngsters from Fareham and Hedge End Stagecoach and our Annie (Victoria Sian Lewis) has a promising future on the stage.

The moment she leaps on to the table and bursts into song with Tomorrow in the office of President Roosevelt and seemingly changes the entire outlook of the United States is a real highlight.

The fabulous orchestra also treat us to stand-out renditions of It’s The Hard Knock Life and Maybe among other numbers.

Su Pollard makes a convincing tragic drunk in her role as mean mistress Miss Hannigan, with some funny scenes as she flirts her way around the States. But she often slips out of her New York accent and becomes less Manhattan, more Hi-De-Hi.

The cast pick up the pace in the second act with an enjoyable closing sequence including moments of comedy from amusing butler Drake (Ashley Knight) and romance from the impressive David McAllister as Oliver ‘Daddy’ Warbucks.

Annie doesn’t quite live up to the heart-warming tale I remember, but it remains a holiday treat for the young and no longer quite so young.

Annie runs until Saturday. Box office: 023 8071 1811