Elphaba casts her spell over Liverpool atop St George’s Hall. Photo by Jono Symonds

Review by Kathryn Hayden

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Everyone’s talking about Wicked at the Liverpool Empire and, with over 63,000 tickets already sold, I was fortunate to be invited along on Press Night with a guest.

The story is based on the novel ‘Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West’ by the acclaimed American author Gregory Maguire. The book was inspired by the characters and stories created by L. Frank Baum in ‘The Wonderful Wizard of Oz’ and the musical reveals what happened before and after Dorothy went over the rainbow.

My guest gets to meet some of the show’s characters

The audience are gripped from the moment this brilliant production starts. The outstanding costume and set design include an awe inspiring huge red-eyed mechanical dragon suspended above the stage. There’s spectacular energy and choreography from the amazing ensemble and singing from the whole cast is note perfect throughout.

Tonight, Amy Webb plays Elphaba and she gives an incredible performance with her outstanding and powerful vocals. Elphaba is born via her mother’s one night stand and to the obvious disgust of her mother and grandfather, she’s also born with green skin. She’s the unloved child who suffers prejudice and ridicule throughout her life and you start to wonder whether the Wicked Witch of the West really was wicked.

Elphaba starts university to study witchcraft and sorcery with her sister Nessarose (Emily Shaw) who is in a wheelchair. It’s clear their grandfather is completely devoted and Elphaba is the unloved sister who has only been brought along to take care of Nessarose.

The other students are horrified by her green appearance and it’s here that she meets the beautiful, spoilt, confident and rich Glinda (Helen Woolf) who fits the role perfectly and delivers an excellent performance.

When there’s a room mix-up, Elphaba and Glinda are forced to share and eventually against all odds become best friends. As we go on their life journey with them, destiny reveals how they become the Wicked Witch of the West and the Good Witch of the North.

There’s brilliant professional performances all round from every single member of the cast; headmistress Madame Morrible (Kim Ismay), heartthrob Fiyero (Aaron Sidwell who is best-known as Steven Beale from Eastenders), The Wonderful Wizard of Oz/Doctor Dillamond (Steven Pinder who is probably best known as Max Farnham from Brookside) and munchkin Boq (Iddon Jones).

The plot unfolds with twists, turns and surprises. The yellow brick road even features briefly, as does Dorothy herself as a silhouette towards the end of the show.

This successful production is in it’s 12th year and it’s clear to the audience that it will continue for many more. The story, cast and music are simply sensational. There’s only limited ticket availability so I’d suggest you don’t delay! Visit atgtickets.com/Liverpool