As previously tipped by Whatsonstage.com, hit show Wicked has announced a major tour of the UK and Ireland. It will start at Manchester’s Palace Theatre on 12 September 2013, with public booking opening on 19 November 2012. Further tour dates and casting are yet to be announced.

First opened on Broadway in October 2003, Wicked received its West End premiere in 2006 at the Apollo Victoria Theatre, where it has been seen by over 4.5 million people to date. Its many awards include eight Whatsonstage.com Awards, including Best New Musical in its opening year, and Best West End Show, our award for longer-runners, twice.

Wicked tells the “untold story” of the Witches of Oz - popular blonde Glinda, aka the Good Witch of the North, and her spin-victim friend Elphaba – who were both immortalised in the 1939 film classic The Wizard of Oz. The musical has a book by Winnie Holtzman, based on Gregory Maguire’s novel Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West, with music and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz. It’s directed by Joe Mantello.

The current London company is led by Louise Dearman as Elphaba, who is making Wicked history as the first person to have played both Glinda and Elphaba, Gina Beck as Glinda, and Ben Freeman as Fiyero.

Executive Producer Michael McCabe said: “With Wicked continuing its phenomenally successful London run, we are very proud to also now be announcing this major tour of the UK and Ireland. We are absolutely delighted that the premiere will take place in the amazing city of Manchester which has such a prestigious history of hosting the regional premieres of so many world class musicals”.

Andrew Stokes, Chief Executive, Marketing Manchester said: “Wicked is one of the most popular new musicals of our time and we are delighted that Manchester will be the first port of call for its UK tour as part of the 'Manchester Gets It First' initiative. The Palace Theatre is an icon of the city and a major contributor to our night-time economy. It is a worthy stage for the production’s first performance out of the capital and will no doubt prove popular with the over one million international visitors a year that the city-region attracts.”