REIVEW: Annie, Mayflower Theatre, Southampton, until Saturday, February 26.

The irresistible, irrepressible Annie once again delights with her endearing call to trust in the future - a wonderful feel-good fairy-tale in which positive thinking gets every possible reward.

We’re deep in a depression; there are rumblings and threats in far-off lands. For 1930s America, you might as well read 2011 Britain.

And then in breezes breath-of-fresh-air Annie, the wildly-optimistic little orphan with the knack of making everything turn up trumps simply by believing that that’s what’s going to happen.

Su Pollard is terrific as the ghastly, grotesque Miss Hannigan, the boozy old bird in charge of the children’s home from which Annie starts her meteoric rise to become the world’s happiest child and chief presidential adviser.

Inevitably, it’s Annie’s show - and Victoria Sian Lewis is superb in the role, a stage natural who exudes confidence without ever grating. She captures every last bit of orphan Annie’s unsinkable buoyancy and does so with oodles of charm.

But the night also belongs to David McAlister’s Daddy Warbucks.

McAlister works beautifully with the tiny girl opposite him, and in some ways he embodies the whole point of the show - the single-minded money-maker whose life is transformed beyond all recognition the moment he lets little Annie into his home.

And this is where McAlister is at his best, delivering an almost Scrooge-life conversion as he movingly emerges as a loner who’s finally - thanks to Annie - discovered exactly what life really ought to be about.

Phil Hewitt