Kerry Ellis to Return to London's Wicked As Willemijn Verkaik Bows Out Early Due to Medical Condition

News   Kerry Ellis to Return to London's Wicked As Willemijn Verkaik Bows Out Early Due to Medical Condition
Kerry Ellis, who was the first British actress to play Elphaba when she took over from Idina Menzel soon after the show first opened at London's Apollo Victoria Theatre, is to return to the show, beginning performances Aug. 4, for a run through Oct. 25. 

Kerry Ellis
Kerry Ellis

She replaces Willemijn Verkaik, who is withdrawing from the show prematurely July 19, in order to have surgery to address an ongoing back condition.

In a press statement, Michael McCabe, executive producer of Wicked, commented, "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."

Verkaik, who joined the company in November 2013, added, "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!"

Ellis, who has also played Elphaba on Broadway, originated the role of Meat in Queen's We Will Rock You. Other leading roles include Nancy in Oliver! at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane, Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady, Ellen in Miss Saigon and Fantine in Les Miserables. It was also recently announced that Ellis will embark on her first solo U.K. tour, following her successful solo debut at the London Palladium in May 2013. The tour will launch at Leicester's Curve Sept. 27, then visit Yeovil, Barnstaple, Horsham, Leeds, Birmingham, Durham, Stevenage, Harlow, Bury St. Edmunds and Shrewsbury, before culminating at London's Cadogan Hall, Oct. 26. She will not be appearing in Wicked due to these and other prior engagements Aug. 19, Sept. 27, Oct. 2-10, 14-16 or Oct. 18.

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