Last week, we caught up with the uber talented Kerry Ellis to discuss Wicked, working with Rock Legend Brian May and her upcoming new show “Murder Ballad”.
Check out what she had to say below.
The Theatre Hub: Was being a performer something that you always aspired to be or did you want to be something different when you were younger?
Kerry: I think it was something that I always wanted to do, it’s in my blood, it’s a clique thing to say but it really was. I didn’t want to do or be anything else. It was never a question.
The Theatre Hub: Your passion and drive has certainly led you to star in some incredible musicals over the years, did you ever have a dream role in mind that you wanted to play?
Kerry: No, not really but you’ve definitely hit the nail on the head, it’s all about passion and drive. You have to have that in this industry as its so tough at times. It’s all about sustaining a career and for that purpose you have to be passionate and love what you do. I love the diversity that this job brings and being able to do a variety of different things such as make albums, musicals, tour etc, it’s a lot more than I expected. My world’s been opened up and I do all sorts. I really love that.
The Theatre Hub: It must be quite scary to bring out your own music and share that with your audience?
Kerry: Absolutely. Your baring your soul and giving the audience a little bit of you. When it’s a show, it’s somebody else’s responsibility but when it’s your own stuff its just a different kind of pressure.
The Theatre Hub: Let’s talk about Wicked, you started on the West End back in 2008, taking over from Idina Menzel, did you feel a lot of pressure at the time to take over from the original or were you just ready to put your own spin on it?
Kerry: It feels like such a long time ago now. So much has happened to me since then. I didn’t feel a pressure to take over, I was just thrilled to be doing the role and to be the first British Elphaba. I had an amazing amount of support here with fans, producers, the company, there was so much support, it was almost as if I was doing a new show that’s how I treated it. Idina had done the show before, she was a huge star coming over to play that role which was fantastic and I was just grateful to see her work, to watch her open the show and to just be apart of it.
The Theatre Hub: You did get to cross the pond and play the role at the world famous Gershwin Theatre, how did you feel when they were like “Oh Kerry, Broadway wants you”?
Kerry: I guess that was a little more pressure than being in the UK, mainly because I’m from here and have done many shows here and people know me, to go over to Broadway you kind of have to go and prove yourself. You have to be there because people want you to be there so that was a little bit more pressure and there was high expectation. A lot of people expected great things from me and I felt that. Having said that, I also felt the excitement and the support out there to. There was a real buzz and I was very grateful to go and have that opportunity. I always dreamt of going to Broadway since I was a child so to live that out was fantastic.
The Theatre Hub: How did the audience’s differ between here and the states?
Kerry: With a show like Wicked, it’s such an interactive show, the audience is so involved in it, everyone responds so well so it didn’t seem that different. Maybe in another show it may feel different but I’ve only had that one experience.
The Theatre Hub: You also starred in We Will Rock You, where you met Brian May. The two of you have worked very closely together for years with music projects, charity work etc how has it been to work with him? Have you learnt a lot?
Kerry: He has always been a bit of a mentor really. I’ve almost had these sort of parraell careers, I’ve worked with Brian throughout my musical career, he kind of opened my eyes to so much, especially when being in the studio together. He taught me how to put an album together and I was allowed to be apart of the whole process which was amazing really because he is a veteran to that kind of thing. He knows how to do it all so to be involved in all of that process, was amazing!
We’ve now done so much together, albums and touring etc it’s completely different. It’s almost like we’ve been in a band together through all of these years. What’s been nice is that it’s developed. We find different avenues with what we do now and who we are. We obviously go off and do our own things but then we come together and use all of those experiences. The simplicity of it is great, it’s just the vocal and guitar, the things we love most. That’s why it works.
The Theatre Hub: In September, you’re premiering the off-broadway show “Murder Ballad” at the Art’s theatre. It’s a rock musical and has never been performed here before. Can you tell us a little bit about the show?
Kerry: It’s a four hander with a very small on stage band. It’s an intimate show which is set in a bar in New York. It’s a bit of a love quartette driven through love and emotions and how you react to certain events. Essentially, it’s a love story. I can’t really tell you much about the murder because that would be giving it all away. It’s quite short with one act only therefore it’s quite intense. It’s a new experience for me and I’m really excited about it. It’s a limited run so hopefully people will come, sell it out and just ram the place.
The Theatre Hub: Do you prefer the smaller venue setting or can it be intimating?
Kerry: I’ve done smaller shows of my own but I haven’t done a musical that close. You’re used to being closed to people because even in big shows the front row is close to the stage but it is an intimate environment. I’m excited for it because I feel that it will be quite special. It will feel like we’re in somebodies living room, it will feel like they’re in the story which will be a great new experience and something that I am really excited to do.
We hope you enjoyed the interview and it was really lovely to get to speak to Kerry. The Theatre Hub did get loads of tweets with fan questions from you guys in which we selected three to ask the leading lady herself. Click here to read part 2.
Don’t forget to buy tickets for “Murder Ballad” before they sell out. It really isn’t one to be missed! https://artstheatrewestend.co.uk/whats-on/murder-ballad-/