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Kerry Ellis returns to Wicked for 12 weeks

Kerry Ellis

Casting news

KERRY Ellis, the original British Elphaba, will return to the cast of Wicked for 12 weeks – from Monday, August 4 to Saturday, October 25, 2014. Willemijn Verkaik, who departs the production in order to have surgery to address an ongoing back condition, will play her final performance as Elphaba on Saturday, July 19, 2014 at 7.30pm.

Michael McCabe, Executive Producer of Wicked said: “We are all so sorry that Willemijn’s truly remarkable international journey with Wicked, that began in Germany in 2007, should end prematurely. It is only her extraordinary determination and professionalism that has enabled her to continue performing to date despite enduring extreme pain and discomfort.

“We are very grateful to her and pleased that many thousands of West End theatregoers did get the opportunity of seeing her wonderful performance as Elphaba since she joined the cast in November 2013. On behalf of the entire company, we wish Willemijn a full and speedy recovery.

“In the meantime, we are absolutely thrilled to welcome back the incredible Kerry Ellis to the role that won her awards both in the West End and on Broadway for a very special limited season.”

Willemijn Verkaik said: “To be given the chance to play Elphaba in four different countries is something I am incredibly grateful for. Now I have to cut my West End run short and it’s absolutely devastating to me. I’ve been fighting this injury for a few months but was determined not to let anything get in the way of my West End debut and certainly not wanting to disappoint the audiences. But I have to face the facts.

“I thank producers David Stone and Michael McCabe and our General Managers, Playful Productions, the cast and crew and all of you so much for all your support in this difficult time. I promise I’ll be back on stage soon, in better shape than ever!”

Kerry Ellis 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 won the Whatsonstage.com Award and the Broadway.com Audience Choice Award for her performance as Elphaba. She was a member of the original London cast of Wicked and became the first British actress to play the coveted role when she replaced Idina Menzel in January 2007. She subsequently played the role to great acclaim on Broadway.

A successful recording artist and concert star, her albums include Wicked In Rock and Anthems, both in collaboration with Brian May.

She created the role of Meat in the Queen and Ben Elton musical We Will Rock You and her many other theatre roles include: Nancy in Oliver! (Theatre Royal, Drury Lane); Fantine in Les Misérables (Queens Theatre); Ellen in Miss Saigon (UK Tour) and Eliza Doolittle in Trevor Nunn’s production of My Fair Lady (National Theatre/Theatre Royal, Drury Lane).

Ellis has just appeared with Kristin Chenoweth in An Evening with Kristin Chenoweth at the Royal Albert Hall.

NB: Kerry Ellis will not be appearing in Wicked on Tuesday, August 19; Saturday, September 27; Thursday, October 2 to Friday, October 10; Tuesday, October 14 to Thursday, October 16 and Saturday, October 18 due to her concert appearances.

Willemijn Verkaik will play her final performance as Elphaba on Saturday, July, 19, 2014. She is currently scheduled to play all evening performances w/c Monday, July 14. At all other performances the role will be played by Emma Hatton.

Wicked is currently booking at the Apollo Victoria Theatre until April 25, 2015.