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Hit The Theatre interview: Kerry Ellis
Since January this year, Kerry Ellis has been wowing crowds at the Apollo Victoria Theatre as the green star of Wicked the Musical. Wicked tells the untold story of the Witches of Oz and why one came to be called Ďgoodí and the other Ďwickedí. Not only does Kerry have to spend 2 hours in makeup every night to become green she also has to play the Ďwickedí witch Elphaba.
Having graduated from the Laine Theatre Arts Since Kerry has performed in a number of smash hit musicals from My Fair Lady, in which she understudied and played Eliza Dolittle on numerous occasions, to We Will Rock You in which she starred as Meat. Kerry went on to perform in both Miss Saigon and Les Miserables before joining the original London cast of Wicked in October 2006 as the standby to the lead role of Elphaba (originally played by the original Broadway star of the show Idina Menzel).
Will Howard from Hit The Theatre caught up with Kerry to ask a few questionsÖ
What is it about the musical Wicked that really appeals to you?
I heard from America that Wicked might be coming to London so I bought a copy of the CD, and fell in love instantly, especially as itís a massively female orientated show. I had a look at the book, then the Wicked website (in London this is, (www.wickedthemusical.co.uk), then auditioned and the rest is history.
So many people can relate to it. The audiences every night are so diverse, from kids with parents to teenagers to people my age, then older people. Itís got everything, walking on stage it feels like a film set, the costumes, the script, the powerful songs are just breathtaking. The story unfolds very naturally throughout the show.
What was it like working with someone like Idina?
We didnít actually work that much together really, we both have our own ways of. I was around for the original direction and was lucky to take in Joe Mantello (director) comments but was allowed to go away and work on the role on my own.
When I took over from Idina in January Joe came back and worked personally with me. Elphaba is a very demanding role, itís like running a marathon every night, itís a massive journey. It took a while to get into the discipline and pace of doing 8 shows a week.
You have taken on some great roles in your short career, what is it like going from the original cast of We Will Rock You to working on a long running show like Les Miserables?
I've done so many amazing and different roles, with Eliza in My Fair Lady, a rock chick in We Will Rock You (Meat), Fantine in Les Miserables and now Elphaba in Wicked. A lot of performers get pigeonholed; so far I have been very lucky.
All of the roles are very exciting and have a different vibe to them. Les Miserables is a classic and we were the 20th Anniversary cast which was amazing. Every role is interesting and Iíve learnt new things from each.
I feel very blessed to do what I do.
What advice would you give any young people looking to get into the industry?
You have to really really want to do it, Itís a very hard business to get into and is very competitive. You have to love it, and be prepared to be knocked back a lot. If youíre going to fall at the first hurdle then it certainly isnít for you. You have to be disciplined and very determined.
Do you remember your first visit to a theatre? What is so special about theatre?
My mum took me to see Les Miserables, aged 11. I absolutely loved it, and thatís when I knew I wanted to be on the stage.
Itís live, itís real, its so different, and you feel a connection with the actors on stage. There is something special about a live performance; you feel so much more involved.
Why should young people come to Wicked?
I love it, I really do. Everyone can relate to something or someone in the show which I think is great. The show touches people for different reasons. Some people connect with Elphaba as they feel ostracized for being different and the show deals with various relationships and also how people are perceived and judged.
When you come and see the show you really get your moneys worth, you walk out feeling like youíve had a great night.
What is next for Kerry Ellis?
I am contracted to be in Wicked until June 2008. At the moment I am working on an album with Brian May (legendary Queen guitarist) to be released early 2008. It has a musicals theme, as well as other songs, but we will be doing them on a massive scale, with huge orchestras.
Are people born wicked or is wicked thrust upon them?
Iím not wicked Iím just misunderstood!
Wicked is showing at the Apollo Victoria Theatre, in London. It is now booking to 27th September 2008.
Tickets are priced from £15-£60 and are available from www.hitthetheatre.co.uk.
Hit The Theatre has a special offer on the show (£60 including top price ticket and a 2 course meal). For the special offer, (CLICK HERE TO BOOK)
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