On Monday theatreland exploded with several extremely exciting casting announcements. It was revealed that Kerry Ellis, the original British Elphaba, will return to Wicked at the Apollo Victoria Theatre from Monday 4th August for a limited run until Saturday 25th October 2014.
Kerry Ellis was a member of the original London cast of Wicked and became the first British actress to play the coveted role when she replaced Idina Menzel in January 2007. She subsequently played the role to great acclaim on Broadway.
Since understudying Martine McCutcheon in Cameron Mackintosh's production of My Fair Lady in 2000, Kerry Ellis has played some of the West End’s most iconic roles including Meat in We Will Rock You (Dominion), Ellen in Miss Saigon (UK Tour), Fantine in Les Misérables (Queen's Theatre) and Nancy in Oliver (Drury Lane). Sadly Dutch star Willemijn Verkaik will play her final performance as Elphaba tomorrow (19th July 2014) in order to have surgery to address an ongoing back condition.
It has also been announced that American actors Billy Harrigan Tighe and A.J. Holmes will take over from Gavin Creel and Jared Gertner as Elder Price and Elder Cunningham in the West End production of The Book of Mormon. They will join the musical at the Prince of Wales Theatre from Monday 28th July 2014.
Alexia Khadime and the Olivier Award winning Stephen Ashfield will continue as Nabulungi and Elder McKinley. Billy Harrigan Tighe has appeared on Broadway in Pippin and starred as Fiyero in Wicked US Tour, while A. J. Holmes has played Elder Cunningham in all three North American companies of The Book of Mormon.
Whilst on the topic of casting news, producers of Urinetown have confirmed which cast members will return to the show for its West End transfer. Jamie Lloyd’s production begins performances at the Apollo Theatre on Monday 29th September 2014.
Theatrical legend Jenna Russell and Jonathan Slinger will reprise their performances as Penelope Pennywise and Officer Lockstock. Marc Elliott, Rosanna Hyland and Karis Jack will also return to the show as Mr. McQueen, Hope Cladwell and Little Sally. Richard Fleeshman won’t star in the run due to other commitments so further casting will be announced shortly.
Earlier this week, Billy Elliot welcomed the seventy-fifth boy to play the title role worldwide. Twelve year old Ollie Jochim from Chelmsford will alternate the role with Elliott Hanna (11 years old from Liverpool), Bradley Perret (12 years old from Juan les Pins, France), Mitchell Tobin (14 years old from Florida, USA) and Matteo Zecca (12 years old from Buckinghamshire).
Billy Elliot has also extended its West End booking period at the Victoria Palace Theatre until Saturday 19th December 2015. A whopping 375,000 new tickets are now on sale. The production currently stars Ruthie Henshall as Mrs Wilkinson, Deka Walmsley as Dad, Chris Grahamson as Tony and Ann Emery as Grandma.
The Importance of Being Earnest celebrated its official opening night on Thursday (17th July). The play runs at the Harold Pinter Theatre until Saturday 20th September 2014. The all-star cast features Rosalind Ayres, Niall Buggy, Nigel Havers, Martin Jarvis, Christine Kavanagh, Cherie Lunghi and Siân Phillips
Finally, Skylight starring Bill Nighy and Carey Mulligan has recouped within its fifth week with the play currently breaking all Wyndham’s Box Office records for the highest grossing show. Tickets for the production, which runs until 23rd August 2014, are selling fast!