It has recently been announced that Kerry Ellis will take over from Nicole Scherzinger in the Musical Cats from 9th February until 25th April. I spoke to her about what she thought about the role, Cats and her career to date.
When we spoke last time you were still playing Elphaba and you were just about to embark on your tour. How did you the tour go?
It was lovely thank you, it was the first time I have toured on my own and we had a great response. We are hoping to do it again maybe later in the year at other venues.
What was it like leaving Wicked yet again?
Going back into the show, I was really anxious and nervous. I’d had such an amazing time the previous time I was in Wicked and when I left, it was incredible – the final night was like a rock concert. I had so many great memories of the show so I was really apprehensive about going back in. I didn’t know if I could recreate the role or the great experience. I was actually really fortunate, it was brilliant, a similar thing happened on my final night, it was bonkers, it was crazy. I had a great time once again and I am really grateful for the opportunity.
What have you been doing since the tour?
I have been doing a lot of concerts over Christmas, an orchestral tour, a tour called ‘West End Women’ with Joanna Ampil and Ria Jones and also I have been back I the studio with Brian (May), we are looking to do some more things in the coming months and I’m also about to go into Cats!
That is what everyone is talking about! You did a huge one-woman concert at the Palladium and you’re going back!
I know, It’s a real joy actually, I did my own show at the Palladium but I have never actually been in a musical there so it’ll be really wonderful. It is an iconic theatre to play in. I am really excited.
How you worked with Andrew Lloyd Webber before?
I haven’t! I have done concerts of his work but I have never actually been in one of his shows so I am really excited. It is great to work with him finally and it should be fun.
Have you seen the show?
Yes, I went to the opening night and I saw Nicole (Scherzinger) and the rest of the company and it was wonderful I really enjoyed it.
Did you have an inkling then that the show would be so successful that they’d extend the run and you might get the chance to play Grizabella?
The response to the show was fantastic and there was a real excitement about the show. Cats had been around for years at the New London Theatre and then on Tour and now it’s back! So there has been a real buzz and excitement about the return of Cats. So I cannot say I am surprised that it extended it’s run but I didn’t expect to be asked at all. I knew the role was there, it is one of those big iconic roles and also it is one I have not played before so I am thrilled to be doing it.
The thing about Cats is that it is a real ensemble piece and everyone has their moment. I am really looking forward to that kind of company. Particularly coming from Wicked where for the two female leads have quite a demanding role, this will be really nice to share the experience as part of a company and really work as a team. It should be fun.
I start rehearsals near the end of January, a couple of weeks before I start. I know the show, the characters and the songs. Memory is an iconic song which comes with a lot of responsibility, so there is a lot of expectation. I have to perform Memory really well. So it is a different challenge for me. I am going to go into Cats really open minded as it is a new production for me. I shall go in and see what the creative team say and go with it. Hopefully I will get the chance to work with Trevor Nunn a little bit he has been wonderful with me in the past and it would be great to work with him again.
What is next after you finish in Cats on 25th April? If the run extended a second time would you stay or look for something else?
Possibly, that is still a long way off and I think they are still taking this show week by week. I am the same. It is interesting how you life changes with a phone call. This business is like that, you can be working one minute or indeed not working and then one phonecall can mean an audition or a casting and your life changes for the next six months or a year. I think it is the most exciting and yet the most scary thing about our industry. Scary because that phone might not ring. I do quite like that adrenalin of not knowing what’s next. I like the versatility of it all and going from one thing to another.
You told me last time that you had been asked to so a screentest for the movie adaptation of ‘Into The Woods’ but you couldn’t make it because you were pregnant. Have you got your eye on any other films?
I went to a premier of Into the Woods last night and it was absolutely fabulous, I loved it, it was magical. Emily Blunt was wonderful and gave a phenomenal performance. I loved it so if there are any more films to come out like that then obviously I would love a chance to get a casting.
I am sure Into the Woods is going to be a hit, so that’ll open doors for other musical adaptations and of course there are always the Wicked Movie rumours.
There have been those rumours since I opened in Wicked! I am sure there are a lot of people in line for that role.
But if there were any major musical role you would like, either on stage or on screen what would it be?
I have been asked that many times and it is always very difficult because there are just so many. It also has to come at the right time of your life. I would love in the future to be play Norma Desmond from Sunset Boulevard or Mama Rose in Gypsy. I missed it at Chichester but really want to see it at the Savoy.
Finally, if you were really a cat, what sort of cat-like qualities would you have?
I love the fact that cats are massively independent and happy to go on their own little journeys. Like me, they go off at nighttime, to explore and have adventures. I like that there is a bit of a mystery about cats and also that they are quite delicate but strong and adventurous as well. That’s the kind of cat I’d be.
Kerry you have been wonderful, thank you very much for your time. Best of luck in Cats!
Video of Kerry Ellis singing Memory released by the Cats Website.