Alexia Khadime will swap lions for witches when she leaves her current role in The Lion King to become the new Elphaba in the musical Wicked on 9 June. Khadime temporarily replaces current Elphaba, Kerry Ellis, who flies off to New York to recreate her performance on Broadway for five months.
Khadime has been playing the role of Nala in Disney's The Lion King in since May 2005. Her other stage credits include national tours of Whistle Down The Wind and Leader Of The Pack, plus Cinderella The Musical at Hackney Empire.
Leaving her lioness attire behind, Khadime will don the witchy wardrobe of Elphaba, the green-skinned girl who becomes the Wicked Witch of the West in Gregory Maguire’s story Wicked. Based on the characters in L Frank Baum’s famous novel The Wonderful Wizard Of Oz, Wicked imagines the pre-Dorothy story of two very different girls whose lives are taken in opposite directions, as they become synonymous with good and evil.
In taking on the role of Elphaba, Khadime has big shoes to fill. Current Elphaba, Ellis, has developed a large and loyal following during her time in the show, which began as understudy to original Elphaba Idina Menzel, before she took on the role full time in January 2007.
Khadime joins the cast at the same time as Desmond Barrit, who replaces Nigel Planer as the Wizard on 9 June. The cast also includes Dianne Pilkington (Glinda), Oliver Tompsett (Fiyero) and Harriet Thorpe, who replaces Susie Blake as Madame Morrible from 12 April.
Ellis stars as Elphaba on Broadway from 17 June and returns to the London production on 1 December, with Khadime occupying the role at the Apollo Victoria until 29 November.
Wicked is booking until 4 April 2009. em>CB