Meet the new Elphaba, Kerry Ellis
Kerry Ellis will be taking over the role of Elphaba in stage musical WICKED from 1 January 2007. She spoke to about her inspiration and how it felt to step into the role, replacing Idina Menzel, mid-performance
When did you first decide you wanted to be a performer?
I started performing at the age of three. I was involved in a pantomime with my Dad in Suffolk. I used to go to dance classes and sing along to Liza Minnelli, Barbra Streisand and all the show tunes I could find. I drove my brother mad singing in my bedroom!
There were a lot of stories about Martine McCutcheon missing performances in My Fair Lady. What was it like to be her understudy?
Martine was a wonderful Eliza and it was really unfortunate that she became quite ill. But it was a fantastic opportunity for me and working with such an amazing company was brilliant. They were so supportive and I learnt so much from all of them, especially Jonathan Price.
You starred in We Will Rock You for two years. What was it like to work with Queen?
I had the best time on We Will Rock You. It was such a buzz to do the show and Queen were great. I still work with Brian May quite a bit and he's a joy and an inspiration. I recorded the song I sang from the show 'No One But You' for the download chart with a full orchestra, which was such an experience! I was very lucky.
Prior to WICKED, what was your favourite job or role?
Well, I have been very lucky to play so many different roles, and not been typecast or branded to one style, so each has been a very different and great experience. Eliza Doolittle (My Fair Lady) was a great challenge and very rewarding. Meat (We Will Rock You) was a joy as I was able to create a new role. Fantine (Les Miserables) and Ellen (Miss Saigon) are both classic roles to play. And now, Elphaba in WICKED Elphaba is one of those 'dream roles' - she has such an amazing and interesting journey and I can't wait to get stuck in and get under her skin.
What is a standby?
I guess standbys (rather than understudies who may cover several roles) are needed due to the enormity of the roles they cover. The parts of Elphaba and Glinda are so demanding and such a big responsibility that you need to have people ready to step in and command the show, exactly as the current cast members do. Therefore you need people literally 'standing by' ready to take over if ever they are needed.
You recently went on as Elphaba midway through a performance. What was that like?
Amazing, terrifying, fantastic, nerve-racking; every emotion you can imagine. I was ready though and glad to go on stage even though it was halfway through the show. I didn't really have time to think about it, so I just did it.
Did you have to do many auditions to win the role?
I did have about six or seven auditions but it was worth every one. It's an honour to have the opportunity to play this role. I'm very excited and just hope I can do us 'Brits' proud!
See Kerry Ellis as Elphaba from 1 January 2007. Book tickets now at www.wickedthemusical.co.uk
Check out the official fan site for WICKED at