Ellis is best known for playing Elphaba in Wicked, for which she won the 2008 Whatsonstage.com Award for Best Takeover in a Role, having succeeded original Elphaba, American Idina Menzel, in the West End production. She made her Broadway debut in the Stephen Schwartz musical last year, before returning for a limited stint at the Apollo Victoria.
Her other musical credits include Queen’s We Will Rock You, in which she originated the role of Meatloaf. Queen’s Brian May is producing Ellis’ first full-length album - due to be released next summer - for which he’s also written songs with Don Black.
Oliver! opened, with the West End’s largest-ever advance of £15 million, on 14 January 2009 (previews from 12 December) and is currently booking through to 27 February 2010 (See WOS TV, 15 Jan 2009). Based on Charles Dickens’ literary classic Oliver Twist and, beyond its theatre fanbase, Lionel Bart’s musical found legions of fans from the 1968 film version. The score includes now-famous songs including “Consider Yourself”, “It’s a Fine Life”, “As Long as He Needs Me”, “Oom-pah-pah”, “Food, Glorious Food”, “I’d Do Anything” and the title song.
The musical is directed by Rupert Goold, based on Sam Mendes’ 1994 staging at the London Palladium. Goold is joined by two key members of Mendes’ original creative team, Matthew Bourne, who co-directs and choreographs the new outing, and set designer Anthony Ward. Lighting is by Paule Constable, sound by Paul Groothuis, orchestrations by William D Brohn and musical supervision by Martin Koch. Mendes’ production ran for 1,366 performances from December 1994 to February 1998 at the Palladium, where it grossed more than £40 million.
The current cast also features Steven Hartley as Nancy’s abusive boyfriend Bill Sikes, Julian Glover (as Mr Brownlow), Julius D\'Silva (Mr Bumble), Wendy Ferguson (Widow Corney), Julian Bleach (Mr Sowerberry/Dr Grimwig), Louise Gold (Mrs Sowerberry/Mrs Bedwin) and Tamsin Carroll (alternate Nancy), as well as teams of alternating child stars. Griff Rhys Jones takes over Omid Djalili as Fagin from 14 December (See News, 15 Sep 2009).