The West End is a magical place for any theatre fan, offering up every kind of theatrical treat imaginable. It draws in millions of people to its theatres every year, not only from this country but from all over the world, and they keep coming back time after time. While it may be the pinnacle of our UK theatre scene, it does not hold its shows exclusively however. Many a West End show has ventured outside of London to bring its particular brand of theatrical entertainment to audiences all around the country.
These touring productions take the best of the West End and share it with everyone, which is just what the UK and Ireland Tour of Wicked is doing right now. The West End production has been delighting audiences at the Apollo Victoria Theatre for seven years, and now the untold story of the Witches of Oz has been travelling to venues all over the place since September 2013, when it opened at the Manchester Palace Theatre. Currently playing in Milton Keynes, it stars Nikki Davis-Jones and Emily Tierney as Elphaba and Glinda respectively, alongside the likes of Liam Doyle (Fiyero), George Ure (Boq) and Marilyn Cutts (Madame Morrible) and the rest of the talented company. Each and every performer is a highly valued and integral member of the production, no matter how big or small their role in the show, which is why Jemma Alexander has been chosen as the featured ensemble member for this week’s edition of In Profile.
Jemma Alexander is a talented actress with a growing number of theatre credits to her name. She attended the London School of Musical Theatre and graduated from there with Distinction, joining the list of such other LSMT alumni as Jodie Jacobs, Nancy Sullivan, Richard Meek and Rosa O’Reilly. Role whilst training include Mrs Lovett in Sweeney Todd, Emilia in Othello, Beatrice in Much Ado About Nothing, Alice in The Duchess, Gouda in Hope and Diana in Absent Friends.
Her professional stage career post-graduation has seen her become involved in a wide assortment of theatrical productions, with one of her first appearances being in the West End. She performed at the New Players Theatre (now the Charing Cross Theatre) in the 2009/10 production of The Full Monty playing Susan/Toni and understudying the role of steel worker-turned-stripper Jerry’s estranged wife Pam Lukowski. After that, she starred as Kathy Seldon in a production of classic musical Singin’ in the Rain at the Broadway Studio Theatre.
She then became involved in one the musical production of Ken Ludwig’s comedy Lend Me A Tenor, which featured a book and lyrics by Peter Sham and music by Brad Carroll and made its debut at the Theatre Royal, Plymouth in September 2010 with Alexander in the ensemble role of Maid and also understudying the roles of Maria Merelli and Anna 2. She stayed with the show when it transferred to the Gielgud theatre in London’s West End, reprising her role as Maid and once more covering the role of Maria Merelli, the fiery wife of famous Italian opera singer Tito.
She travelled to Germany after that to perform at the English Theatre in Frankfurt in a production of Tommy, the rock musical based on The Who’s 1969 album. She played Mrs Simpson in the show and covered the role of Mrs Walker. She then returned to London and to the New Player’s Theatre –now renamed the Charing Cross Theatre – to play Madame Defarge in a musical version of Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities. Most recently she appeared in the 20th Anniversary Concert UK Tour of Rent, playing the principal role of Joanne.
She is now making her way around the country as part of the UK and Ireland Tour of Wicked. She is the Standby for the role of ‘wicked’ witch Elphaba in the smash hit show.
Jemma Alexander is a bright talent who has a number of impressive theatre credits behind her, and it’s a pretty safe bet that there are more still to come. One can only hope that she will become a familiar face in the West End in the future.
By Julie Robinson (@missjulie25)
You can follow Jemma on Twitter: @jemmalexander
Saturday 1st March 2014