DIRECTOR: Francois Theron

CAST: Emma Rogers alternates with Lintle Lesela as Annie, Chantal Stanfield (Miss Hannigan)

Musical supervision: Rowan Bakker

COSTUMES: Sarah Roberts

SETS: Stan Knight

VENUE: National Children’s Theatre, 3 Junction Avenue, Parktown

UNTIL: December 23 (during school holidays, Tuesdays to Sundays at 10.30am and 2.30pm;

During the government school term, weekdays at 9am and 10.30am)

RATING: ****

The snowy accents of New York, New York and one of the world’s best-loved Christmas musicals. If you’ve seen Annie before, you’ll know this winter’s tale about the love of a child is just the ticket for the family. A quick recap will remind you.

Billionaire Daddy Warbucks wants an orphan for two weeks over Christmas to ease his conscience. Little curly red-head Annie arrives, thinking she’s there to scrub floors and wash windows, and winds her way into the rich man’s heart. Con artists pop out all over the show to rain on Annie’s parade, but love is, of course, uncompromising.

It’s a simple, heartfelt frolic, and although this National Children’s Theatre (NCT) production avoids the real shadows that fall, going rather for a more mainstream play-fulness, it’s got the right tone for the little ones. The old-fashioned Americana of the original Annie is also embedded in clever sets for the tiny theatre.

On opening night, the role of Annie was played by Emma Rogers of the NCT workshops. She alternates with Lintle Lesela. Rogers is a little star in the works. Although her singing is too soft, she has a lovely quiver to her voice, and keeps the enchantment alive in Annie’s soul.

A small cast of girls as the orphans buoy up the spirit, while the grown-ups connive through scenes that are elem-entary enough for even the youngest in the audience to grasp.Especially good is TV star Chantal Stanfield as the evil Miss Hannigan, who runs the cruel 1930s orphanage. Larger than life, booming and blowsy, she commands the stage while appealing to the gentle hearts gathered in front of her.

Some advice: get there early or you could end up sitting at the back with a child on your lap, and you won’t see much. But this happy production will put you in the sweetest Christmas mood.