Sunday, 3 August 2014

Feature | KERRY ELLIS RETURNS TO WICKED (London) August 2014

After the departure of Willemijn Verkaik from the London production of Wicked, it was announced that Kerry Ellis will return to the show from Monday 4th August until Saturday 25th October 2014. Kerry, the first British Elphaba has also performed the role on Broadway at the Gershwin Theatre. In celebration of her return, we look back over Kerry's emerald career. 

Serving as a temporary standby to Idina Menzel, Kerry was part of the original London production at the Apollo Victoria Theatre for three months from the show's opening on 7 September 2006. After playing the role as a standby on nine occasions, Kerry assumed the lead role on 1 January 2007 when Idina Menzel left. The role saw Kerry as the winner of the 2008 Theatregoers' Choice Award for Best Takeover in a Role. Kerry left the London production on 7 June 2008. 

It was pretty much immediately after leaving London that Kerry transferred to the Broadway production with performances starting on 17 June 2008. She replaced Stephanie J. Block; making her the first British actress to play Elphaba on Broadway and the first to transfer from the West End to Broadway. Kerry won the 2009 Audience Award for Favorite Female Breakthrough Performance.

Later in 2008, Kerry performed a rock version of the famous Defying Gravity at the Royal Variety Performance with Queen's Brian May. The pair have subsequently gone on to perform in many tours together and have produced numerous albums including Anthems in 2010. 

Whilst in New York, Kerry worked on her first EP, Wicked in Rock, produced by Brian May and Steve Sidwell. This was the birth of Kerry's epic version of "Defying Gravity" that she later performed at the Royal Variety Performance. "I'm Not that Girl" from Wicked and the Queen song "No-One but You" that she and May recorded six years earlier (a result of her popular performance as Meat in We Will Rock You) appeared on the EP. Kerry left the Broadway production on 9 November 2008.

Kerry preparing backstage. Photo Logan Riehl

Returning to the West End production on 1 December 2008, she would then go on to play a further five months as Elphaba where until now she ended her time as the 'wicked' witch. After her final performance on 9 May 2009 Kerry had been billed as lead for a total of 116 weeks (omitting absence) in both the London and Broadway companies, making her the longest-serving British actress in the role of Elphaba at the time.

Most recently, in July 2014, Kerry performed "For Good" - Wicked's final song between the two leading ladies with original Broadway Glinda, Kristen Chenoweth at the Royal Albert Hall.

About her 2014 return, Kerry said "It is an absolute thrill for me to be returning to this amazing show and the incredible role of Elphaba that is so very special to me. I can't wait to be green again and join this fantastic cast".

Kerry Ellis will not be appearing in Wicked on Tuesday 19th August, Saturday 27th September, Thursday 2nd October - Friday 10th October, Tuesday 14th - Thursday 16th October and Saturday 18th October due to her concert appearances. Book tickets for the London production here

After Kerry, Nikki Davis Jones begins performances as Elphaba in the West End production. Nikki is currently performing the role in her final venue of the UK tour at Birmingham Hippodrome alongside Liam Doyle as Fiyero (who also plays his final performance in Birmingham) and Emily Tierney as Glinda. Book tour tickets here

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