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REVIEW: Wicked, Sunderland Empire, Until April 25

DEFYING GRAVITY ... Wicked is at the Sunderland Empire.
DEFYING GRAVITY ... Wicked is at the Sunderland Empire.

THE untold story of the witches of Oz is sure to cast a spell over North East audiences.

The musical phenomenon, touring from the West End, is a prequel to the Wizard of Oz.

It follows green-skinned Elphaba (Ashleigh Gray) and Barbie-esque Glinda (Emily Tierney) after they enrol at Shiz University.

The pair – as different in personality as they are in looks – are immediate enemies, but after being roomed together, they form an unexpected bond.

The show, based on the 1995 Gregory Maguire novel, Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West, is a complete triumph.

I adored the show when I saw it on the West End four years ago, and this touring version is every bit as spectacular.

The story is genius – the way it leads up to the Wizard of Oz and weaves the lives of the characters together will surprise and entertain fans of the original tale.

The supporting cast – making up students, teachers, Munchkins, Emerald City citizens, and flying monkeys – is fantastic, but the show very much belongs to Gray and Tierney, and they’re a formidable pair.

Tierney is wonderful as the painfully perky Glinda, delivering high-energy performances with the likes of signature song Popular. She fits the bill of the character perfectly.

Gray is simply stunning as Elphaba, and green is definitely her colour. The make-up used to give her the hue looks fantastic.

Ashleigh Gray as Elphaba

Ashleigh Gray as Elphaba

All Elphaba wants is to be accepted for who she is and the way she looks, and Gray completely captures that innocence within her.

After she’s painted as a villain, and Gray begins singing famous track Defying Gravity, everyone was waiting for that big moment and that impossibly-high note. It was enough to give you goosebumps and she blew everyone away.

The pair’s duet, For Good, is another stand-out moment in the show. The performance was powerful and emotional.

The show itself is a visual spectacle. The set, designed around a giant 13-hour clock, is gorgeous and ever-changing, and the costumes and make-up look magical.

I adored the show when I saw it on the West End four years ago, and this touring version is every bit as spectacular.

Wicked is a touching tale of friendship, love, and overcoming adversity. It’s moving, uplifting, fun, and sensational.

See Wicked while it’s in Sunderland or you’ll be green with envy of all those who did.

Wicked runs at the Sunderland Empire until April 25. Click here to book tickets.

Twitter: @ShieldsGazVicki

Wicked

Wicked