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Kerry Ellis returning to Wicked as Willemijn Verkaik leaves early for operation

The dutch star, who has played Elphaba in three different languages, will leave on 19 July

It has been announced that the original British Elphaba, Kerry Ellis, will return to Wicked from Monday 4 August for 12 weeks until Saturday 25 October 2014.

Willemijn Verkaik, who was originally due to be replaced by Nikki Davis-Jones in October, will play her final performance as Elphaba this Saturday 19 July 2014. She departs the production in order to have surgery to address an ongoing back condition.

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... On behalf of the entire company, we wish Willemijn a full and speedy recovery."

"To be given the chance to play Elphaba in four different countries is something I am incredibly grateful for." Verkaik said.

"Now I have to cut my West End run short and it's absolutely devastating to me... I promise I'll be back on stage soon, in better shape than ever!"

On the prospect of returning to the role she won a WhatsOnStage Award for, 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".