Former Wicked star Kerry Ellis is to reprise the starring role of Elphaba at London’s Apollo Victoria Theatre from 4 August. She will replace current Elphaba Willemijn Verkaik, who has been forced to leave the show on 19 July in order to have surgery for an ongoing back condition.
Ellis was the original British Elphaba, having played the role in London in 2007 and New York in 2008. She will defy gravity once again for a strictly limited 12-week run ending on 25 October.
Ellis' other West End roles include Nancy in Oliver, Fantine in Les Miserables and Mimi in the 20th Anniversary convert of Rent.
'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,' she said. 'I can’t wait to be green again and join this fantastic cast'.
Verkaik, who has played Elphaba in Germany, Holland, New York and London, was resilient in the face of serious disappointment about having to quit the show. 'To be given the chance to play Elphaba in four different countries is something I am incredibly grateful for,' she 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 and in better shape than ever.'
Michael McCabe, Executive Producer for Wicked UK said: 'We are all so sorry that Willemijn’s truly remarkable international journey with Wicked 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.’
Wicked tells the untold story of the Witches of Oz. Seen by over 42 million people in 13 countries, the London production is currently the tenth longest running show in the West End and winner of over 100 international awards.
The current London cast includes Savannah Stevenson as Glinda, Jeremy Taylor as Fiyero, Martin Ellis as The Wizard and Sam Lupton as Boq. Understudy Elphaba Emma Hatton will play the green witch until Ellis' run begins in August.