Annie is truly the quintessential American musical. Set in 1930s New York, its timeless song of praise, hope and optimism, 'Tomorrow', is so often sung by a cute child actor wearing a curly ginger wig, alongside an equally cute dog. These elements often overshadow the much darker tones of poverty and neglect – after all, the story is set in a time of financial crisis and economic collapse, and the young girl at its centre and her orphanage comrades are being cruelly mistreated by the evil Miss Hannigan. Nikolai Foster's new production, currently touring the UK, eschews the curly wig, but doesn't dwell too long on much of the underlying social history or moral conscience, aiming itself fair and square at its target family audience, in a joyous evening of pure entertainment.

Young Madeleine Haynes as Annie – one of three young actress playing the role – has a terrific understanding of the character and period, bringing out Annie's vulnerability and hope on her quest to find her real parents. Haynes sings like a dream too, and her solo numbers, many of which come early on in the show,  are pitched perfectly. Her colleagues in 'Team Roxy', playing the other orphans, including Rosanna Beacock's feisty Molly, are six talented young performers who bring out the individual traits of their characters beautifully, particularly in the iconic 'Hard Knock Life' sequence. And Annie's iconic dog – here often featured running in and out of the action rather than by Annie's side – is well realised by the gorgeously cute labradoodle Amber, who seems to revel in the number of treats that Haynes gives her in encouragement.

Nick Winston's choreography is cleverly used to give colour and flavour to a scene – from the cold shrugging shoulder movements of the homeless at Hooverville to the grandour and style of the servants showing Annie around Warbucks' mansion. The latter is a glorious scene where swimming pools and beds are evoked with props and through movement. The 'jigsaw puzzle' set has been well designed too – not only does it give a nod to the darker, more recent child-led piece, Matilda, but effectively evokes Annie's quest to piece together the puzzle of her past.

Craig Revel Horwood's casting as Miss Hannigan has no doubt brought in a lot of Strictly fans who are familiar with his pantomime baddie television persona, but otherwise the casting of a male in the role adds little to the piece. Surprisingly, Revel Horwood underplays Hannigan – while wisely avoiding charicature, he could be a much more sinister presence throughout. The dance routines, however, are particularly strong, with Revel Horwood moving niftily in a pair of six inch heels. Elsewhere, Holly Dale Spencer injects a deep longing and love for her employer Warbucks, as well as the usual efficiency, to the character of Grace Farrell, and Alex Bourne brings his confident vocals to a Daddy Warbucks whose heart is soon melted by Annie's charm. Former Joseph finalist Lewis Bradley steps out of a multitasking ensemble to play radio DJ and singer Bert Healy too.

This delightful musical has been filmed no less than three times now, including a recent contemporary adaptation starring Cameron Diaz. There's something remarkably heart-warming and life-affirming about Charles Strouse's music (played here with verve) and Martin Charnin's lyrics that make this show appeal to every generation. If you haven't seen Annie before, do catch this production – and if you have seen a previous production – go again. It's impossible not to be swept up in the positivity of it all by the end of this latest joyous telling of the timeless tale.