Annie, Mayflower Theatre

AT first glance, the man best known as the hard-to-please and snarky Strictly Come Dancing judge is not the obvious choice to play a child hating orphanage boss.

But as soon as Craig Revel Horwood stumbles onto stage wearing silk pyjamas, gin bottle in hand, it's clear he was pretty much made for the role, which has more than a touch of the pantomime dame about it.

In fact, he has absolutely everything required to play a man-hungry alcoholic who runs a New York orphanage in Depression-hit 1933.

As you'd expect with any production involving Revel Horwood, who ensured the panto cast were as slick as any West End company when he was last in Southampton as the Wicked Queen in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs during Christmas 2017, the choreography was superb.

Easy Street, the riotous number where Miss Hannigan, her brother and his girlfriend plot Annie's demise is a stand out moment.

Annie is the story of an orphan who enchants the powerful billionaire Oliver Warbucks, persuading him to undertake a massive search for her long lost parents. It's a story that takes her from the orphanage to the White House via a Fifth Avenue mansion where she is adopted and lives happily ever after. Not before fraudsters attempt to grab the $50,000 reward and kidnap her though.

The children, especially virtually ever present Annie, played last night by Freya Yates, are an absolute delight, revelling in the rags to riches tale. Alex Bourne and Carolyn Maitland also impress as 'Daddy' Warbucks and the personal assistant he falls in love with.

This is a glorious and faithful retelling of the film, beloved of my childhood, and includes all the classics like Tomorrow and It's a Hard Knock Life, plus Annie's famous red hair and famous red dress.

Craig Revel Horwood is a ten in this glitterball, as are the rest of a spectacular cast.

Annie runs until Saturday. Tickets: 023 8071 1811