THEY say never work with children or animals, But there are exceptions to every rule and Annie is the perfect one.

Every scene which includes either the children from the orphanage, or delightful doggy star 'Sandy', is an absolute triumph. 

The ensemble numbers, particularly Hard Knock Life performed by the seven youngsters in the cast while cleaning their dormitory, are superb and Annie actress Zoe Akinyosade is a stand out star who we can definitely expect to see more of in future. 

READ MORE: There were tears - our review of Titanic the Musical

Keep up to date with events in and around Southampton by signing up to our What's On newsletter.

I love this ultimate rags to riches tale, which was a real childhood favourite of mine. Little has changed in this timeless tale in the 40 years since the film version was released, although I would say the production is looking more slick than I've ever seen it look, with a touch of the Matildas about the bigger, more brash numbers. 

Annie is set in 1930s New York during the Great Depression when Annie is among the children forced to live a life of misery at Miss Hannigan's orphanage. 

Her luck changes when she's chosen to spend a fairytale Christmas with billionaire Oliver 'Daddy' Warbucks and she lives happily ever after, but not before fraudsters claim to be her real family for the reward money. Oh, and not forgetting the time when she meets President Franklin D Roosevelt and changes the course of history! 

Daily Echo: A scene from Annie

Craig Revel Horwood, replacing Paul O'Grady who passed away just weeks before he was due to appear here, makes a quite brilliant, brassy and bolshy Miss Hannigan.

At first glance, the acid tongued Strictly judge doesn't appear to be the obvious choice for this gin-soaked silk pyjama clad horror, but anyone who saw him in Cinderella the Christmas before last would know he would be perfect in the role of the orphanage boss, who has more than a touch of the pantomime dame about her.

Daily Echo: Annie UK Tour 2023 - Craig Revel Horwood (Miss Hannigan).

He ensures every move is perfectly choreographed and waits for the thunderous applause at the curtain call to subside before dedicating the performance to his late friend and colleague O'Grady.

  • Annie runs until Saturday (April 29). Tickets from or call 023 8071 1811.

Daily Echo: