THERE’S something bad happening in Oz. You see there’s a wizard who wants to be all powerful and is spreading fake news to try and make it. He’s built his yellow brick road and now he’s putting all the talking animals in cages.

But this isn’t his story – this is Wicked, and it’s the witches of Oz who take centre stage.

Now 15 years old, the all singing and all dancing prequel to The Wizard of Oz, Wicked has wowed millions world-wide and is now back at Sunderland’s Empire Theatre until September 29.

At it’s heart is the transformation of Elpheba, a socially shunned but idealistic young woman with a talent for magic, into the reviled Wicked Witch of the West and the journey of her friend from self-confessed popular girl to, erm, popular but less self-absorbed Glinda the Good.

Played by Amy Ross, as Elpheba, and Helen Woolf, and Glinda, the two women are the undisputed stars of the show, belting their way through tune catchy tune.

Their chemistry is the bedrock of the show and they are ably supported by Eastenders’ Aaron Sidwell as romantic lead Fiyero, Steven Pinder as the wizard, Kim Ismay as Madame Morrible, Emily Shaw as Nessarose and Iddon Jones as Boq.

The production itself is monumental, the attention to detail bringing the world of Judy Garland’s classic to life on stage. The set is beautiful, all 350 costumes immaculate. Most mesmerizing is Glinda’s bubble dress, with its 100,000 hand-sewn sequins.

It’s all lots of fun. For diehard fans there’s even a nod to darling of the Broadway original Idina Menzel and her Frozen exploits.

Wicked is both familiar and original – the chance to find out how the Tinman lost his heart, where winged monkeys came from and just why those sparkly slippers were so important – and 15 years on it’s still as enchanting as ever.