Our top 10 Elphabas in Wicked
Having turned the West End green since 2006, Wicked the Musical tells the story of how Elphaba grew up to become the Wicked Witch of the West. In no particular order, here’s our list of the top 10 actresses who have played Elphaba on Broadway and in the West End. Vote for your favourite Elphaba at the bottom of this article and see if they will be able to defy gravity by having the most votes.
Our favourite actresses to have played Elphaba
Originating the role of Elphaba on Broadway alongside Kristin Chenoweth as Glinda, Menzel’s performance as Elphaba won her the 2004 Tony Award for best actress in a musical. Her unique voice has been celebrated by musical theatre fans and audience members alike, and her rendition of “Defying Gravity” has to date been listened to over 46 million times on Spotify. She played the role on Broadway from its opening on 8th October 2003 to 8th January 2005, as well as originating the role on the West End for a limited engagement from 7th September to 30th December 2006. Menzel is regarded as a musical theatre legend and has toured five times, including two world tours. Younger audiences will know her as the voice of Elsa in the hit Disney movie Frozen, where her performance of “Let it Go” has been listened to over 250 million times on Spotify.
Louise Dearman is the only actress to play Elphaba and Glinda. Her Wicked credits began in 2010 when she starred as Glinda opposite Rachel Tucker. It was announced in 2012 she would play Elphaba, and she captivated audiences from 2012-2013. She has also played Grizabella in Cats, has performed in a one-off concert with fellow Elphaba Kerry Ellis and has released three albums.
After graduating from Loughborough University, she then spent a year at London School of Musical Theatre. She became the standby Elphaba from 2013 to 2015, before landing the role full-time and making her first official performance on 2nd February 2015. She stayed in the role until 3rd September 2016. As well as playing Elphaba, she has played Scaramouche in We Will Rock You and Eva Peron in the 2017 West End revival of Evita.
Performing the role in German, Dutch and English, Willemijn Verkaik is the only actress to play the role in three languages! She has also performed in four countries, setting the record for starring as Elphaba in the most countries! Her Wicked journey started in Germany, where she performed in Stuttgart from 2007 to 2010. She then took on the role in the Dutch production in 2011 before making her Broadway debut in 2013. Verkaik’s West End debut came in 2014 however she was unable to finish her run due to picking up a back injury which meant she had to cut her run short. She took to the Western sky for the last time in the West End on 22 July 2017, having performed the role over 2,000 times in her career. In September 2017, she originated the role of Molly in the German production of Ghost and has also voiced the German and Dutch translations of Elsa in Frozen.
Performing in the West End, as well as Broadway, Seoul and Sydney, Jennifer DiNoia is the only performer to equal Willemijn Verkaik’s record of playing Elphaba in four countries. She first started in Wicked as a swing for the Chicago production in 2006, before riding her broomstick in and out of the productions around the world before making her final landing on Broadway in 2016. Her Wicked career definitely hasn’t been for “One Short Day”!
Finding nationwide fame on the television show I’d Do Anything, Rachel Tucker took over the role of Elphaba from Alexia Khadime. She played Elphaba in the West End from 2010 to 2012 and 2016 to 2017. In 2015, Tucker was cast as Elphaba in the Broadway production, where she soared above the crowds of Oz from 2015 to 2016. Before Wicked, she played Meat in We Will Rock You.
Performing as Elphaba on Broadway, Eden Espinosa starred in the 1,000th performance on Broadway alongside Megan Hilty as Glinda on 21st March 2006. She has performed in numerous productions, originating the role of Elphaba in Los Angeles, San Francisco and the first US national tour. As well as this, Espinosa has performed in Rent as Maureen and Brooklyn the Musical.
Stephanie J Block
From playing Elphaba in the early workshops of the production in 2000 to starring on Broadway in the role from 2007 to 2008, Stephanie J Block is part of the foundations of the show. Some theatre fans even regard her as the original Elphaba, despite Idina Menzel starring as the first Elphaba on Broadway in 2003. She has also performed as Reno Sweeney in Anything Goes, Judy in 9 to 5 and will soon be leading the cast of The Cher Show as Cher.
Kerry Ellis was the first British woman to play Elphaba, taking over the role after Idina Menzel. She first played Elphaba over a decade ago on 1st January 2007 and after a critically-acclaimed West End run, she then played Elphaba on Broadway from June to November 2008, before flying back into the cast at the Apollo Victoria Theatre for another 6 months. From August to October 2014, she joined the cast once again for a limited engagement. Fans of Kerry Ellis will know her from originating the role of Meat in We Will Rock You, but more recently she has performed solo concerts across Europe and released five albums, three with Queen band member Brian May.
Previously starring as Elphaba in the West End, Alice Fearn assumed the lead role in 2017, after previously being the standby Elphaba. Alongside Sophie Evans as Glinda, together they performed at the production’s 12th anniversary in the West End. With previous credits including Les Miserables, Shrek the Musical and Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Alice Fearn lit up the Apollo Victoria Theatre with her ground-breaking performances of “Defying Gravity”.