There are few musicals which have had the global success that Andrew Lloyd Webber’s The Phantom of the Opera has enjoyed for the last 27 years. The second longest running musical in the West End, the macabre love story has been enthralling audiences since it first opened at Her Majesty’s Theatre in October 1986, and regular readers will know that the show is a particular favourite of mine. Several Phantom ensemble members have been featured here in In Profile previously and this week another is set to join their ranks. I started writing these In Profile featurettes as a way to highlight the hard-working, talented performers of West End shows who don’t always receive the recognition they deserve. The majority of ensemble members who appear here have been young, up-and-coming performers who are still on the lower rungs of the ladder to theatrical stardom, but new, fresh faces aren’t the only ones deserving of the spotlight. As The Phantom of the Opera has so successfully proven, longevity is something to be celebrated too, so this week’s In Profile features ensemble member Ellen Jackson.
Born and bred in Lanarkshire, Ellen Jackson is a graduate of the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, which has since been renamed as the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. She is part of an impressive list of the school’s alumni, which includes such famous names of stage and screen as James McAvoy, David Tennant, Ruby Wax and Alan Cumming. Perhaps unsurprisingly, given the show she is currently performing in, she made her professional debut in the world of opera. At the Waterford Festival, she played the title role in The Merry Widow and Gianetta in The Gondoliers, with her performance in the latter warning her a ‘Best Female Voice’ award. Soon after she joined the prestigious Scottish Opera, Scotland’s national opera company which has been in operation for over half a century now. With them, she displayed her vocal prowess in such productions as Der Rosenkavelier, Die Meistersinger, Die Fledermaus, L’Elisir d’Amore, Tosca and Egisto.
Accomplished as she is in operatic circles, Jackson is also well experienced on the musical theatre stage. Before she became part of the Phantom family, she performed in a variety of musicals, both in and out of the West End. In the West End, she has appeared in the hit musical Chess, and out of the West End, she has appeared in a production of Fiddler on the Roof at the Theatre Royal in Plymouth. She has also performed in classic shows such as My Fair Lady, enjoyed a spell with the renowned Chichester Festival Theatre company in their production of Born Again, and toured the UK with The Sound of Music, in which she played the role of Sister Margaretta.
She can also count Les Miserables among her extensive theatre credits, adding the achievement of having been a part of the West End’s two top musicals to the many others on her list. She performed in the original London production and also features on the show’s 10th anniversary concert recording as a choir/chorus member. Other theatre credits include Annie, The Beggar’s Opera and Carousel – in the latter, she played Mrs Mullin and the Principal (Perth Theatre).
It was back in 1995 that Jackson first joined the company of The Phantom of the Opera, in the ensemble role of Page. She then moved on to the role of Wardrobe Mistress, a role she still plays at Her Majesty’s Theatre today and also performed in the 25th anniversary production at the Royal Albert Hall in 2011. In addition, she covers the leading role of Madame Giry and has performed the part onstage on many occasions.
A long-serving cast member of a long-serving show, Ellen Jackson is a highly talented and experienced performer who boasts enviable vocal prowess. The northern songbird has made a wonderful addition to the West End throughout the course of her career and each Phantom audience should count themselves fortunate to have seen her perform.
By Julie Robinson (@missjulie25)
Saturday 20th July 2013