Kerry Ellis Biography
Kerry Ellis was born in 1979 in Haughley, a small village near Stowmarket, Suffolk, which is where she grew up with her older brother Andrew. She attended Stowmarket High School and in 1995 at the age of 16, Ellis joined the team of Starmakers at Potters Holiday Village with which she was involved until 1997 during her college holidays. Following this, Ellis returned to formal stage training at Laine Theatre Arts.
In 1995 and 1997, as a member of Starmakers, Ellis performed musical numbers such as "Memory" from Cats and "Sun and Moon" from Miss Saigon. Before her subsequent move into West End theatre Ellis also played Cinderella at Southend and performed on cruise ships.
In 2001, Ellis joined the cast of Cameron Mackintosh's West End revival of My Fair Lady, where she became second understudy to Martine McCutcheon's Eliza Doolittle and various other roles. She starred on numerous occasions opposite Jonathan Pryce during her time with the company. During 2000 Ellis also understudied Marti Webb in Magic Of The Musicals.
Ellis was spotted by Brian May and Ben Elton during her run in My Fair Lady and in 2002 she was cast in We Will Rock You originating the role of Meat. Ellis left the cast of We Will Rock You on 17 April 2004 and went on to play Ellen in Cameron Mackintosh's UK tour of Miss Saigon. On 7 June 2005 she joined the cast of Les Misérables at the Queen's Theatre, playing the role of factory girl Fantine.
In 2006, Ellis was informed that she would play Elphaba in the original London production of Wicked at the Apollo Victoria Theatre. It was then revealed that the show would be opened by Idina Menzel, who originated the lead role of Elphaba on Broadway, while Ellis served as a temporary standby. She took over the full-time position as Elphaba after Menzel's pre-planned departure, three months after the show opened, on 1 January 2007. Effectively, Ellis is the first British actress to play the role of Elphaba. For this role, Ellis won "Best Takeover in a Role" at the 2008 Theatregoer's Choice Awards.
On 7 June 2008 Ellis temporarily departed the Apollo Victoria Theatre, where she was succeeded by Alexia Khadime, and transferred to the Broadway production of Wicked with performances starting from 17 June 2008. She replaced actress Stephanie J. Block on Broadway, making her the first Elphaba to transfer from the West End to Broadway, mirroring original Broadway cast member Idina Menzel who transferred to London to open the production. For her run in the Broadway production Ellis won the Broadway.com Audience Award for "Favorite Breakthrough Performance (Female)". Ellis left the Broadway Company on 9 November 2008 and she was replaced by Marcie Dodd.
Ellis returned to the West End production on 1 December 2008 and completed her time with Wicked on 9 May 2009. Alexia Khadime replaced Ellis permanently in the role two days later. During her final performance Ellis altered one of her lines, from "For the first time I feel ... Wicked!" to "For the last time I feel ... Wicked!", acknowledging that this was her last and final performance. This caused a huge amount of applause from the audience. During the curtain call she thanked all her co-stars and fans and admitted that Wicked had "changed [her] life".
Following her departure from Wicked, on 12 and 13 May 2008, Ellis performed alongside Idina Menzel, Adam Pascal and Josh Groban in a special performance of Chess in Concert at the Royal Albert Hall.
Ellis took part in the workshops for Way Beyond Blue, written by Imogen Stubbs and directed by Trevor Nunn and the title role in Helen of Troy, directed by Gary Griffin.
In March 2009, Ellis and other West End actors recorded songs for a musical treatment of Terry Pratchett's Only You Can Save Mankind.
On March 21, 2010, Ellis presented an award at the 2010 Olivier Awards.
On March 29, 2010, Ellis took over the role of Nancy from Jodie Prenger in Cameron Mackintosh's current London revival of Oliver!. In an interview with the East Anglian Daily Times, Ellis confirmed she will play her final performance as Nancy on October 2, 2010.
On October 31, 2007, she appeared on popular ITV lunchtime chat show Loose Women as part of a halloween special where she performed "The Wizard and I" from Wicked.
Ellis performed her rock version of "Defying Gravity" at the Royal Variety Performance 2008 on 11 December at the London Palladium in the presence of senior members of the Royal family.
She also appeared on BBC's 'I'd Do Anything' when the final nancys performed 'I'm Not That Girl' After a Wicked matinee
On March 27, 2010, she appeared as a mentor on BBC's new talent show Over The Rainbow, which is searching for a Dorothy for an upcoming West End revival of The Wizard of Oz.
On April 23, 2010, Ellis appeared as a guest on BBC Breakfast, talking about her role in Oliver! and her new upcoming album, which has been released for pre-order on Amazon.com.
In 1999 Ellis sung on a recording for Children in Need and did a jingle for Capital Radio. In 2004 she worked with Queen lead guitarist Brian May to record an orchestral version of the song "No-One but You (Only the Good Die Young)", originally a Queen song and featured in the musical We Will Rock You.
Ellis recently worked with Steve Sidwell to produce new recordings of the Wicked songs "I'm Not That Girl" and "No Good Deed". It was expected that a teaser CD of her forthcoming debut album, produced by Brian May in the time since Ellis left We Will Rock You and featuring drum tracks by Taylor Hawkins, would become available in June before she left for Broadway.
The teaser CD was released on 7 July 2008 as Wicked In Rock and features rock versions of Wicked songs "I'm Not That Girl", "Defying Gravity" and a remastered version of her We Will Rock You song, "No One But You". The CD is on sale in London musical shop, Dress Circle, at the Gershwin Theatre and is available on the British iTunes. A limited edition 12" vinyl has also been released to purchase from Dress Circle.
During her time performing as Elphaba in Wicked on Broadway, Ellis recorded a song for Scott Alan entitled "Behind these Walls". This song is featured on his album Keys.
In January 2009, Ellis sung with Mazz Murray and Peter Johansson in the Champions of Rock concert at De Geerhallen in Norrköping, Sweden.
On 15 and 16 May 2009, Ellis performed with the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra alongside Mazz Murray, MiG Ayesa and Ricardo Afonso at the Symphonic Queen Spectacular at the Bournemouth International Centre's Windsor Hall. She is set to perform similar concerts in Weybridge on 1 August and Romsey on 15 August 2009 plus possibly others around the country from July through to September.
During June 2009 Ellis performed 4 shows called "The Great British Songbook" at the Shaw Theatre (See below).
Ellis performed with John Barrowman at the Henley Festival on 10 July 2009.
Ellis appeared in OK! magazine on 23 June alongside Patina Miller talking about "The Great British Songbook" and her time in Wicked.
On September 13, 2009 Kerry appeared in the Show Thankyou for the Music which was held in Hyde Park London, with a star studded performance of You Have to be there, The love song from Kristina the Musical composed by Benny Andersson and Bjorn Ulveaus Of ABBA.
It has been announced that Kerry will be appearing on Last Choir Standing's winners Only Men Aloud!'s Album Band Of Brothers, performing Somebody To Love by Queen.
Also Kerry has recorded a song with Mazz Murray and Gina Murray at Abbey Road Studios in support of Breast Cancer relief.
Her debut album, "Anthems", will be released on September 13, 2010, produced by Brian May.
On June 20, 21, 25 & 26, 2009, Ellis performed her first solo concerts at The Shaw Theatre, Euston Road, London. The Great British Songbook celebrated the work of many of our leading contemporary composers and lyricists, including Queen, Coldplay, The Feeling and Goldfrapp. The series was devised by Neil Marcus and the Arranger and Musical Director was Steve Sidwell.