Amy Ross was a musical theatre student at Arts Educational in London when Wicked was first premiered on Broadway.
Like her fellow classmates, she went out and bought the soundtrack, falling “instantly in love”.
“When it came to London a couple of years later I got my ticket straight away,” she recalls, “and I remember sitting in my seat and thinking, wow, this is even better than I thought, and it’s definitely something I wanted to tick off at some point in my career.”
She’s certainly done that now, and in some style, being cast to play Elphaba, the prickly outsider and future Wicked Witch of the West, in the UK tour of the smash hit musical which comes to the Liverpool Empire next week.
It’s a massive role in a massive show – 13 articulated lorries are needed to transport the set, along with the 350 costumes, 140 wigs, and a giant mechanical dragon.
Wicked has been seen by 55 million people in 16 countries since it opened 15 years ago, and on its last visit to Liverpool it sold 68,000 tickets. With a week to go until the latest run, 60,000 have already gone.
So no pressure then!
Amy Ross as Elphaba in Wicked. Photos by Matt Crockett
“I think for musical theatre roles for women it is the one,” Amy says. “It’s huge because you’ve got the incredible emotional journey, the scenes are amazing, but you’ve also got all the epic songs. I am very lucky.”
The latest leg of the tour was preceded by performances in Zurich over Christmas and New Year, with the tour proper opening in Bristol. Liverpool is the second date, and the show will be in situ for more than three weeks.
It’s the third time Amy has performed on stage at the Empire, with two runs of Legally Blonde to her name, and, a decade ago, an appearance in High School Musical.
“I love it,” she says of the Lime Street theatre. “It’s gorgeous. It’s so big!”
Wicked of course needs the grand space afforded by the Empire’s capacious stage and huge auditorium.
The multi award-winning show, titled The Untold Story of the Witches of Oz, is the tale of an unlikely but profound friendship between two sorcery students and their extraordinary adventures in Oz, which will ultimately see them fulfil their destinies as Glinda The Good and the Wicked Witch of the West.
“Lots of people talk about the singing, but for me, what blew me away in rehearsals was how incredible the acting journey is,” reveals Amy, whose previous credits include Kinky Boots in the West End.
“You start the show hopeful, wide-eyed, young, and then by the end of it she’s darker and angrier, and bitter, and so changed by everything she’s gone through.
“There’s so much material there, I feel like every week I learn something new about her. I can’t imagine ever getting stale. There’s so much to play with.”
The actress, who as a youngster liked to stand on the sofa and perform for her family, trained in musical theatre, but admits she would really “love to grab something really gritty, be it a play or something on TV, just to really get my teeth in to some gritty text.”
But in the meantime, she’s signed up as Elphaba for the next 12 months, and is relishing performing the musical all over the country.
“Wicked ticks every single box,” Amy says. “Visually, it’s absolutely stunning. The costumes are second to none. The detail that goes in to the costumes. The set is beautiful. The score is amazing – you go out remembering the songs.
“And at the heart of it is this gorgeous story that’s so centred around relationships. I think there’s something in that story that everyone, no matter who they are, can really relate to.”
Wicked is at the Liverpool Empire from March 7-31. Tickets from the website HERE