West end superstar Kerry Ellis, famous for playing Elphaba in smash west end hit ‘Wicked’ landed not in Oz, but in the beautiful Rhondda valleys last night and this was one landing, Wizard of Oz’s Dorothy Gale would never have forgotten.
Kerry Ellis shot to fame in the early 00s, playing her first ever west end role in the 2001 revival of ‘My Fair Lady’. Ellis was actually playing the understudy of Martine McCutcheon in ‘My Fair Lady’, but due to McCutcheon becoming ill, Ellis largely played the role of ‘Eliza Doolittle’. In fact Ellis played the part so well, that ‘Queen’ superstar Bryan May asked Ellis to audition for his yet to debut ‘We Will Rock You’ Musical. Then just like a “kind of magic”, Ellis landed the part of ‘Meat’ in ‘ We Will Rock You’, which went on to have incredible national and international success.
Ellis has played leading roles in Les Miserables, Oliver!, Cats and famously played the first ever British Elphaba, in hit west end musical ‘Wicked’ and subsequently went on to play the same role in the broadway version of ‘Wicked’.
Ellis wowed us with a version of Shirley Bassey’s Diamonds are forever and really engaged with the theatre audience. I’ve seen many west end stars and pop/rock stars perform live, but there was something truly special about Ellis, that seemed to fill the theatre with pure joy and appreciation.
Joining Ellis on stage, was the superb Welsh Television Orchestra, led by the wonderfully talented John Quirk. The orchestra were a sensational compliment to Ellis’ remarkable voice and presence.
We were dazzled with a version of ‘This is me’ from hit film ‘The Greatest Showman’, which had the audience singing along, it was quite a special moment. Ellis also performed the beautiful ‘ I Dreamed a Dream’ from the wonderful ‘Les Miserables’, which accompanied by the ‘Welsh Television Ochestra’, was magnificent, a moment I will always treasure.
A local school youth choir also performed during the first part of show and showcased the wonderful talent we actually have here in Wales. They were fantastic!
The Richard Williams Singers also accompanied Ellis on stage and delivered an incredible version of ‘One Day More’ again from Les Miserables, which was just magical, I think the accompanying Welsh Television Orchestra, truly added a haunting effect to the performance.
The concert ended with two incredible songs from Ellis, which were ‘Defying Gravity’, which was electrifying and had the whole audience truly captivated and finally Queens famous ‘Somebody to Love’, which Ellis sang with the Richard Williams Singers. The performance sent waves through the theatre, it was fantastic!
In conclusion it was such an honour to have Ellis Visit our beautiful Rhondda Valleys and I feel privileged to have seen her perform here. If you have the chance to see Kerry Ellis at all, then don’t miss her, as she is truly a force of nature!
The RAFT continues throughout June and the beginning of July. You can find the full programmed events over at https://www.raft.cymru/#
ARTICLE BY BRETT SALWAY