WAKING up the morning after seeing Avenue Q at the Palace Theatre, Manchester, to the news that a third of Britons admit being racially prejudiced was kind of perfect.

It sent me – and my chuckle muscles – back to one of the show’s (many) hilarious highlights, the laugh-out-loud funny song Everyone’s A Little Bit Racist.

Come on folks; let’s scrap the pretence, listen to the puppets, accept this and move on!

That’s the joy of this show, it takes Sesame Street/Muppet-style puppets and gives them an adult edge – allowing musical theatre to tackle tricky subjects such as race, sexuality, binge drinking and internet porn in a racy fashion made cute and cuddly by these fury characters.

This version comes from Sell A Door Theatre Company, a new professional production company, committed to new works and drawing fresh audiences into theatres. And Avenue Q, although not strictly speaking ‘new’, certainly fit that bill.

Unemployed graduate Princeton is struggling to find his ‘purpose’ in life, and with the aid of his new found friends on Avenue Q he sets about trying to solve the dilemma.

He falls in love with Kate Monster – a kindergarten assistant, dreaming of establishing a school for ‘people of fur’, and in lust with Lucy The Slut – a saucy chanteuse who uses him for one thing then drops him.

Fellow fuzzy characters in the run-down neighbourhood, include internet porn fan Trekkie Monster, repressed homosexual Republican Rod and his flat mate Nicky. Then there are the Bad Idea Bears, a super-cute and wonderfully-naughty duo who love to make mischief.

Every member of this ensemble cast brings these lovable rogues to life in fantastic fashion – chopping and changing between puppet and voice in a split second at times, blending into the background without hiding their presence.

Stephen Arden’s huge versatility as Nicky, Trekkie and Bad Idea Bear is awesome and drew some of the biggest laughs of the night, while Lucie-Mae Sumner’s switching between Kate and Lucy was just brilliant especially in sharp-shooting conversation with herself – but it kind of feels mean to mention individuals.

Representing the ‘real’ people, Jacqueline Tate showcased stunning vocals in The More You Ruv Someone, as well as fine comic timing alongside husband Brian (Richard Morse) and Gary Coleman (Ellena Vincent). Their ability to converse with a puppet while ignoring the existence of its handler makes the story truly come to life.

Join the tickets Q – it was a long one outside the Palace last night – and make sure you see this refreshing, modern musical classic.

Avenue Q, Palace Theatre, Manchester, until Saturday. Call 0844 871 3018.