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West End star talks about her work with Queen guitarist and upcoming tour
KERRY Ellis is a leading West End lady. Having performed in some iconic shows and sung alongside Brian May, she is appearing in a smaller scale show of Rent in Concert during a 15 date tour, where she will also be taking along her three-month-old son.
I spoke to Kerry a little later than planned, but that is no surprise as she is a new mum to a baby boy called Alfie. She laughed that everything takes her that little longer in the morning. But being a new mum has not put her off going on tour.
She will return to the role of Mimi in the smash-hit musical, Rent, which she performed in last year. Set in New York city it is about falling in love, finding your voice and living for today.
Kerry, 34, said: "I am taking Alfie with me. He is at a portable age. It is 15 dates.
"I can have him with me, which is one of the perks of the job we do.
"I am quite free during the day. I can be a mum during the day and do the show in the evening.
"My parents are retired- they are going to come on a two week jaunt with me.
"It will be great."
She said her partner has the short straw and will be staying at home in Hatfield in Hertfordshire. So what attracted her away from the West End to do this show?
Kerry said: "It is a concert version. You get a lot for your money- costumes, set, a band on stage.
"We do pretty much the entire show apart from some of the dialogue.
"It is quite raw, quite fresh and I think real. "It is very real and very honest. People really enjoy it. The music is fantastic and people love the music.
"This is really quite simple- it takes it back to basics.
"I have been in some massive productions. It is fantastic to go back to something simplistic which is about the storyline, dancing, songs and the characters."
She said she loves the music in the show and gets to sing some great songs, including her favourite, Without You. Kerry got her first West End break in 2001 as Martine McCutcheon's understudy in the role of Eliza Doolittle.
After meeting Queen guitarist Brian May in 2002, she took on the role of Meat in the original London cast of We Will Rock You.
From there she has played lead roles in West End musicals Les Misérables, Wicked and Oliver! as well as appearing in national tours and concert productions of musicals like Miss Saigon, Chess and The War of the Worlds.
Kerry released a studio album in 2010 called Anthems, which was produced by Brian May with a 70 piece orchestra, and a live album Acoustic by Candlelight in 2013.
She has performed with Brian on numerous occasions and has also toured with him. I asked her if she ever gets starstruck?
She said: "Lots of times. Probably when I met Liza Minnelli, the first time I met Brian- he's pretty big. I have been very lucky to meet a lot of people.
"They always seem to be very nice. It took me a little while to talk to Liza Minnelli.
"She came over to me and said hello and I nearly fell on the floor.
"There are lots of people. I have been very fortunate to work with a lot of male musicians.
"It would be really nice to work with a strong female, like Liza Minnelli."
She grew up in Suffolk and appeared in amateur dramatics before attending Laine Theatre Arts from the age of 16.
Kerry said she feels old when she looks back at what she has been in.
But adds: "It is great. It is only when I start talking about it I realise how much I have done."
Go to www.kerryellis.com for more details about Kerry and her latest Pledge album. Rent in Concert is at the Wycombe Swan on February 4 at 7.30pm. Tickets are £22.50 to £32, which includes a booking fee. Concessions are £3 off. Go to www.wycombeswan.co.uk or call 01494 755096.
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