Theatre announcement: Wicked to return to Sunderland Empire

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Wicked will be casting its spell over Wearside once more, the Echo can exclusively reveal.

It’s been announced that the smash hit musical will be returning to Sunderland Empire for a four-week run next year.

A previous tour of Wicked.

A previous tour of Wicked.

The announcement is the latest coup for the High Street West theatre, which staged the show’s North East debut in March and April 2015, that was seen by more than 56,000 theatregoers.

Bosses at the Empire say they are delighted to welcome Wicked back after it became one of the most successful productions in the venue’s history.

Sunderland Empire general manager Ben Phillips said: “We are delighted that the spectacular multi-award winning production of Wicked will fly back to our magnificent theatre in 2018. The North East debut in 2015 left audiences spellbound with nearly 60,000 experiencing this global phenomenon over a four-week engagement and we relish the opportunity to host this magnificent production once again.”

The show, which will fly back to the city from September 4-29, 2018, gives an alternative version of the classic Witches of Oz story and is based on the acclaimed novel Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Maguire.

Tickets for the tour, which features tracks Defying Gravity and Popular, will go on sale on February 1 with a cast announcement made closer to the time.

Executive producer Michael McCabe said: “We were overwhelmed by the incredible response from audiences and critics alike when we first brought Wicked to the Sunderland Empire in 2015 for our North East England premiere, and it is extraordinary to think that almost 60,000 came and saw us.

“Ben Phillips and his great team at the Sunderland Empire showed such tremendous enthusiasm and support, and we’re all really delighted to return to this magnificent venue.”

Audiences will be able to relive the story of two sorcery students and their extraordinary adventures in Oz, which ultimately sees them fulfil their destinies as Glinda The Good and the Wicked Witch of the West.

It’s a wickedly good tale which has earned the show a cult following.

The London version of the show is the 17th longest running show in West End theatre history and recently celebrated a decade of performances at London’s Apollo Victoria Theatre where it continues an open-ended run.

Around the world, Wicked has now been seen by over 50 million people in 15 countries, and won over 100 major awards.

•Wicked is at Sunderland Empire from September 4-29, 2018. Tickets go on general sale from 10am on February 1 in person at the Box Office on High Street West, from the Ticket Centre on 0844 871 3022* or online at www.ATGtickets.com/Sunderland*

*Calls cost 7p per minute plus your plus your phone company’s access charge. Booking and transaction fees may apply.

Wicked facts

•Wicked was seen by more than 56,000 people in its first visit to the Sunderland Empire in 2015.

•By the time this acclaimed production of Wicked returns to Sunderland it will have travelled almost 12 thousand miles (by road, sea and air) since its debut in Manchester on September 12 2013.

•Almost 1.5 million theatregoers have seen this production to date.

•This production features 350 stunning costumes, 140 wigs, 244 pairs of shoes, 110 hats, 125 pairs of gloves and 30 prosthetic masks.

•Around the world Wicked has won more than 100 major awards including three Tony Awards, six Drama Desk Awards, two Olivier Audience Awards, nine WhatsOnStage Awards, an Evening Standard Theatre Award and a Grammy Award.