Who can resist the lure of the dark side? Certainly not me, so I took myself off to the Old Joint Stock for the premiere of Joe Black. A Touch Of Evil, A Celebration Of Villainy In Song.

The place was packed out and there was a palpable sense of anticipation in the room. Many came dressed in black, a few in glamorous outfits. My tip would be to go wild and get your gladrags on for your chance to get on stage with Joe.

Joe had a magic formula for this performance. He’d dug out the Disney classics, mused on the musicals and liberated the villains alongside whom we’ve all lived since childhood. Joe placed these ne’er-do-wells at the heart of his cabaret, indulging his audience in ‘the glorious and mysteriously lime-green hues of the dark side’. We certainly found out what it meant to be bad - and I, for one, loved doing so. His Scar was a treat, his Ursula a triumph, his Phantom side-splittingly funny. Like all villains, he’s got the guttural laugh down to a tee, and the audience loved it.

And then there was Friedrich Hollandaise, Joe’s bewildered, hard-done-by, quick-witted sidekick who’s great on the piano. He played his role to perfection, and his interaction with Joe worked a treat. Watch out for the orange!

The costumes were glamorous. From the glittering sequins and sparkly jewellery to the ostrich plum maracas (not to mention the eyebrows!), the whole look and feel of the show was camp, bold and superbly seductive. The dry smoke purposely added drama. The music scores were vocally demanding, and they both nailed the notes. It was a shame that, at times, nerves got the better of them - lost music, forgotten words for some songs and occasionally not enough padding through the awkward moments - but the audience forgave them. Things on a first night don’t always run to plan!

If you love the underdog, believe that good doesn’t always triumph over evil, and fancy enjoying a masterclass in villainy, then this might just be the show for you.

4 Stars
Stephen Spinks