WHEN it comes to theatrical prequels they don't come any better or spellbindingly sumptuous than Wicked.

Why did the Wizard cast power over Munchkinland and how did Dorothy have such fantastical adventures on the Yellow Brick Road years before Elton John was born?

All is revealed in this backstory of how the Wicked Witch of the West became unlikely friends with Glinda the Good.

It all came from the creative spinning novel of Gregory Maguire with a structure that is clever on so many levels from sheer imagination to political allegory.

It takes us back before L Frank Baum's rainbow appeared.

This production is very witty and by far the funniest version I have seen in this family show's 20-year history as a family musical.

And that is down to our leading actresses and a wonderful cast on this UK tour.

The two leads Laura Pick as Elpheba and Sarah O'Connor as Glinda (initially Galinda) have a real chemistry.

They conjure up magical timing throughout.

Love interest Fiyero is played by Carl Man and he is likeable from the outset.

On stage a huge clock and cogs are overseen by a dragon peering down from the Empire stage roof and you know you are going to be treated to two hours and 45 minutes of timeless sounds to smother your senses.

There is an interval to catch your breath and grab an ice cream in these sweltering times on and off stage.

Special effects and lighting provide the right amount of visual backdrop and we can focus on the plot and wonderful songs from Stephen Schwartz including the soaring Defying Gravity and the beautiful I'm Not That Girl.

Wicked has travelled the world and it remains one of the most stunning of West End and Broadway shows.

Liverpool always welcomes productions of this magnitude with open arms. The first night celebratory ovation certainly won't be the last on this three-week run.

Wicked is a celebration of love and loyalty and that goes with the message to all of us that with a little help from our friends lives can be changed for the better.

A nice message to leave the theatre with accompanied by a huge smile on your face.

VERDICT: Mesmerising and Majestic - five stars.

It is on until Sunday, July 14

Tickets from Atgtickets.com/Liverpool