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Musical hit Wicked to cast a spell at Sunderland Empire

Witches and wizards will head north on tour after the London success of Wicked. Barbara Hodgson reports

Musical hit Wicked is headed for Sunderland Empire in 2015
Musical hit Wicked is headed for Sunderland Empire in 2015

Fans of The Wizard of Oz can forget about ruby slippers, cute little Toto and happy endings over the rainbow. The Wicked Witch is flying north to put the record straight, as hit stage musical Wicked, which has been spellbinding audiences in London, gets set to work its magic on North East audiences for the first time.

The Sunderland Empire has announced that the record-breaking show, which promises to tell the “whole and untold story” of the Witches of Oz, will stop there on a UK tour next year and tickets will go on sale at the end of the month.

The multi-award-winning musical is out to reveal the other side of the The Wizard of Oz, which fans of the all-time favourite movie can be forgiven for thinking they’re fully familiar with after decades of it dominating the festive TV schedules.

Sweet little Dorothy might well have triumphed over the Wicked Witch of the West, but her opponent, it seems, reckons its time to give her point of view.

The show is based on Gregory Maguire’s novel, Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West.

Ingeniously and wittily re-imagining the Land of Oz, it begins with an unlikely friendship between two girls who are sorcery students.

They are Glinda, who’s popular and blonde, and Elphaba, who’s misunderstood and, well, green.

Following an encounter with The Wizard, however, their friendship reaches a crossroads and their lives take very different paths. Glinda is destined to become the Good Witch and Elphaba the Wicked Witch of the West.

The creation of a parallel universe to that of The Wizard of Oz, which was based on L Frank Baum’s 1900 book, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, was an inspired idea by Maguire.

The musical version has enjoyed massive success, having been seen by 39 million people around the world.

Tickets for its London run are now selling into its ninth year and already it’s been seen by more than 39 million people around the world.

Nine productions are running concurrently.

With its seven-plus age recommendation, the show is set to be a real crowd-puller at Sunderland Empire, where tickets go on sale on March 31 for next year’s run from March 31 to April 25.

Ben Phillips, general manager of Sunderland Empire, said: “We are delighted to announce that the global phenomenon Wicked, one of the biggest musicals in West End and Broadway history, will be flying in for a limited four-week run.

“It tells the untold story of the Witches of Oz for the first and only time in the North East!”

The musical’s executive producer Michael McCabe added: “We are thrilled to be bringing Wicked to the magnificent Sunderland Empire in 2015.

“We are really pleased that audiences in the North East will have the opportunity to experience this spectacular production.”

Tickets will be available from 10am on March 31 from the venue, by calling 0844 871 3022 or visiting www.atgtickets.com/sunderland .

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