A WEST End musical promises to bewitch Wearside.
Almost a year to the day since the Echo revealed Wicked would be making its North East debut in Sunderland, the musical has landed in the city.
The show, which tells the colourful tale of the Witches of Oz, opens tonight and will run for a month at the Sunderland Empire.
It’s the latest coup for the High Street West theatre which has had huge success with a string of prestigious shows including The Lion King, War Horse and Jersey Boys.
Cast members stopped traffic as they posed outside the theatre and rolled out the green carpet dressed in the elaborate Emerald City costumes, which have won a Tony Award.
Leading lady Ashleigh Gray, who plays Elphaba, said: “The great thing about Wicked is that we take this story that everyone knows of this wicked witch and we turn it on its head and show how she became wicked.
“She’s born with green skin and is shunned when she’s growing up, and she has this terrible relationship with her father.
“That strikes a chord with a lot of young people who maybe feel like they don’t fit in. You get letters from so many young people who feel like they can relate to Elphaba.
“A powerful message in our story is to be yourself, she sticks to her guns and is very feisty and determined.”
Nearly 50,000 tickets have already been sold for the show. But some still remain, with the best availability for midweek matinees.
The great thing about Wicked is that we take this story that everyone knows of this wicked witch and we turn it on its head and show how she became wicked.Ashleigh Gray, who plays Elphaba
As well as touring the country, the show is simultaneously running in London’s West End, where it recently played its landmark 3500th performance.
Wicked is a re-imagining of the stories and characters created by L Frank Baum in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.
Its score features tracks including Defying Gravity and Popular.
•Wicked is at Sunderland Empire until April 25. For tickets Tel. 0844 871 3022 or visit www.atgtickets.com/venues/sunderland-empire.
•Click here to read interviews with the cast and watch a video of the show.