Annie at the Kings Theatre, Southsea

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As a right-on, leftie drama student I hated Annie with a passion.

Seems I’m mellowing with age. Portsmouth Players’ latest offering is (though it hurts to admit it) heart-warming.

Central to that feeling on opening night, Talia Duff was the eponymous heroine. Many of the senior members of Players could learn something from young Talia with regard to focus and performance-energy. She’s astonishingly good. And everything Talia gives is matched by the rest of the ensemble of orphans. Their songs are worth your ticket money alone.

But Kim Seagrove – offstage so attractive, but, as Miss Hannigan, giving another grotesque for Players – leads the field for the more mature members of the company. Detailed, comic and very funny, her performance is blessed with her trademark strong vocal.

Christopher Brooke is an underplayed and thoroughly likeable Daddy Warbucks, and Andrew Warner (good to see him back) powers through the part of Rooster, brother to the vile Miss Hannigan.

The production totters a couple of times – notably in the very uninspiring NYC number which signally fails to evoke the hustle and bustle of New York.

Musical Director Valerie Tucker should be congratulated for putting together such a tight orchestra, too.

Until Saturday.