September is turning out to be a month packed full of treats for theatre fans, with a plethora of new shows opening in the West End, some exciting musical theatre cabarets being staged, and the popular annual event, West End Bares, taking place just a few days ago and once again raising a lot of money for the charity MADTrust, to name a few. The upcoming week has even more delights in store as two stars of the West End stage are releasing albums, within one day of each other! West End leading lady Kerry Ellis’ new album goes on sale on Sunday 14th September, ahead of a series of tour dates in October, and stage and screen star Johnny Partridge is set to release his début album on Monday 15th September.
Kerry Ellis is an actress and singer who rose to fame on the West End stage and later expanded into the music industry as a recording artist and live performer. The Laine Theatre Arts graduate made her West End début in My Fair Lady in 2001, understudying Martine McCutcheon in the lead role of Eliza Doolittle. Queen guitarist Brian May encouraged her to audition for new musical We Will Rock You and she went on to originate the role of Meat in the show, further solidifying her reputation as the First Lady of the West End by playing such other leading roles as Ellen in Miss Saigon, Fantine in Les Miserables, and Elphaba in Wicked (West End and Broadway). Other highlights include Chess in Concert at the Royal Albert Hall, playing Nancy in Oliver!, the New Generation tour of War of the Worlds and the 20th anniversary concert production of RENT.
That original meeting between Ellis and May led to her forging a career in music and created a successful partnership which has resulted in several albums and concert tours. Kerry Ellis Sings the Great British Songbook, her first set of solo gigs in London, featured May on stage during her encore performance, and the pair also worked together on her début album, Anthems. He made numerous appearances with her to promote the album’s release and performed with her all around the UK as part of her Anthems tour. They have performed together many more times since then, including her solo concert at the London Palladium and the Born Free UK and Ireland tour, and recorded together as well. The live album Acoustic By Candlelight was released in June 2013.
Ellis recently returned to the West End production of Wicked to play Elphaba for a limited engagement following Willemijn Verkaik’s early departure due to injury, and her latest album is released during her run at the Apollo Victoria. The self-titled album is the first which she has made alone and was produced through the crowd funding site PledgeMusic, with a percentage of the money raised after reaching her target being donated to the Born Free Foundation. It came about through the positive response from her Palladium concert earlier this year. Demand from fans for a recording of her performance led her the creation of this new album, which features songs from the concert and includes a mix of ‘standards, musical favourites, the odd Queen song and and some new compositions’. The full track list is as follows:
1. Let It Go
2. I Could Have Danced All Night
3. Take That Look Off Your Face
4. As Long As He Needs Me
5. Who Will Buy
6. Street Where You Lived
7. I Dreamed A Dream
8. The Way We Were
9. Gimme Love
11. Time Of My Life
12. Take That Look Off Your Face (G-A-Y Remix)
Kerry Ellis is released on Sunday 14th September and shortly after she has a series of gigs lined up to perform her hits from the West End and Broadway, as well as songs from the album. Kerry Ellis in Concert will also feature some special guests. The first performance takes place at the Leicester Curve on 27th September 2014 and she will visit a variety of venues around the country throughout October, ending with a final date at London’s Cadogan Hall on 26th October 2014.
John Partridge is a TV actor and stage performer who has remodelled himself as Johnny Partridge to launch his singing career. He trained in ballet and musical theatre and first made his name on the stage, making his professional début in the UK tour of the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical Cats. He played Alonzo/Rumpus Cat and understudied the roles of Mr. Mistoffelees and Rum Tum Tugger, in addition to being dance captain. He went on to play Rum Tum Tugger and Munkustrap in the West End production and also portrayed Rum Tum Tugger in the official 1998 film production. His other stage credits include playing John in the UK tour of Miss Saigon, Marilyn in Taboo, Electra in Starlight Express, and most recently, returning to the stage to take on the role of Zach in the 2013 revival of A Chorus Line at the London Palladium.
The latter role came after a break from the stage, during which time he redefined himself as a television actor by joining long-running BBC soap opera Eastenders. He played the gay character Christian Clarke in the show and is probably most recognised for that role. He has also appeared in several pantomimes and was also a judge on Andrew Lloyd Webber’s TV talent contest, Over The Rainbow, in which they searched for an unknown star to play the lead role of Dorothy in a new production of The Wizard of Oz. Last year, he celebrated an impressive 30 years in the industry with his one-man show, Dames ‘n’ Dudes, at the Hippodrome Casino in London.
It preceded the release of his début album, entitled Dames, Dudes + Cowboys Too, which is set to be released by Big Hand Recordings on Monday 15th September 2014. Described as being ‘very close to Johnny’s heart’, it features covers of songs by his favourite artists as well as a selection of three original songs. The full track list is as follows:
1. The Next Right Thing
2. Me and Liza
3. Barton Hollow
4. Stop for a Minute
5. Tommy and Suzie
6. Bite the Hand That Feeds
7. Tina Kino
9. Love Runs Out
11. Big Love (Hidden Track)
He was most recently seen on the BBC One’s new gymnastics-themed talent show, Tumble, in which ten celebrities compete against one another to impress the panel of judges. Fans will soon have another chance to see him however as he is soon to perform at the Borderline in London on 17th September, where the stage has been set for his album launch party. He then plans to tour with Dames ‘n’ Dudes.
Kerry Ellis and Johnny Partridge are two names instantly recognisable to any theatre fan due to the contribution they have made to the musical theatre industry in the course of their careers. Both albums are something of a new challenge for our two West End stars, but honestly, who wouldn’t enjoy listening to their dulcet tones as they take on iconic songs from the world of music and theatre?
By Julie Robinson: @missjulie25
Tuesday 9th September 2014