Kerry Ellis received a standing ovation last week (Monday 9 January 2007, previews from 1 January) when she became the first British actress to take on the role of Elphaba in hit Broadway musical Wicked.

At the West End’s Apollo Victoria theatre, Ellis – who launched her career as understudy to Martine McCutcheon’s Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady at the National and the Theatre Royal Drury Lane – graduated to full-fledged leading lady in her own right by stepping into the pointy boots of Idina Menzel, who created the role of the green-skinned “Wicked Witch of the West” in both the Broadway and West End productions of Wicked.

The musical – with music and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz and a book by Winnie Holtzman, based on Gregory Maguire’s novel Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West - tells the “untold story” of the Witches of Oz, popular blonde Glinda, aka the Good Witch of the North, and her spin-victim friend Elphaba, who were both immortalised in the 1939 film classic The Wizard of Oz.

Between My Fair Lady and Wicked, Ellis’ West End credits have included Les Miserables and Queen’s We Will Rock You, in which she created the role of Meat.

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In the Wicked cast, Ellis joins Australian Helen Dallimore (who plays “good witch” Glinda), Adam Garcia (Fiyero), Nigel Planer (The Wizard), Miriam Margolyes (Madame Morrible), Martin Ball (Doctor Dillamond), James Gillan (Boq) and Katie Rowley-Jones (Nessarose). The London production reunites the New York creative team, led by director Joe Mantello and designer Eugene Lee.

For Whatsonstage.com TV, we were on hand at the Apollo Victoria as well as at the green-lit post-show party at the nearby Victoria Park Plaza hotel to hear what people had to say about the show and Ellis’ performance. Our TV interviewees include: Kerry Ellis and her co-stars Helen Dallimore, Adam Garcia and Miriam Margolyes; the show’s musical director Gareth Valentine; and first night attendees including pop stars Stephen Gately, Kelle Bryan and Caroline Chikezie from TV’s Footballers’ Wives (See Also 1st Night Photos, 10 Jan 2007).

- by Terri Paddock