I was a little nervous when I realised that, apart from a handful of teachers, I was the only grown-up person in the audience for a sell-out performance of Honk! at the Watermill Theatre at Bagnor, near Newbury. A packed house of seven- to ten-year-olds could have meant two hours of shuffling feet, gurning and other messing about. But not a bit of it, as the cast of this truly charming show had the kids' rapt attention from the very first minute with their engaging mixture of comedy, live music and song.

The story of Honk!, by Anthony Drewe, is that of The Ugly Duckling - with lots of extra funny incidents and twists. One of these is the introduction of a naughty cat, who is trying to lure Ugly into his stewpot. The mischievous moggie is played with feline charm, and a little bit of Elvis, by Philip Reed. It's a proper musical with a great score that leads the audience on the moving journey of the different duck on his way to self-discovery and acceptance. Mark Anderson is wonderful as the gangly outsider, with the most fantastic honk I've ever heard in a theatre.

As is the way of the Watermill, the cast of eight all play a variety of musical instruments as well as acting and dancing, and this works very well with the rollicking-along story. Ida Duck (eider duck - geddit! I am ashamed to say it took me couple of minutes longer than the seven-year-olds to work it out) was excellently performed by Verity Quade, whose excellent voice was almost operatic in its ability to simultaneously convey emotion and belt out a good tune. As the other members of the cast move with alacrity from guitars, piano, violin and saxophone before plunging into another cracking dance routine, it gives a whole new meaning to the word multitalented.

George Stiles's score serves them well in this, with a variety of tones, from the moving Different and the epic Wild Goose Chase to the hilarious Warts And All. A special mention here for the performance of Simon Slater, as Bullfrog, who had the audience in stitches.

The direction (Steven Dexter) and set design (Francis O'Connor) are a delight. Simply achieved effects were nonetheless powerful for being low-tech - in fact they were much more engaging for the youngsters who were grouped on all sides of this in-the-round production. All very friendly and inclusive, it is the perfect way to get young audiences to enjoy theatre.