IT’S the iconic role that leaves other actresses green with envy, but Ashleigh Gray has more reason than most to be overjoyed to land the starring role of Elphaba in smash hit West End musical Wicked – it’s bringing her home, to the Playhouse, for Christmas.
The 32-year-old spent her formative years enjoying musicals in the Capital, dreaming of one day being on the Greenside Place stage.
She said: “I grew up watching all the big touring productions and used to dream I might be up on that stage one day. I’ve been lucky enough to play Edinburgh several times with other shows, but to finally be at the Playhouse, with Wicked, is quite something.”
A prequel to The Wizard of Oz, Wicked, which runs from 19 November-10 January, centres on two friends: blonde and popular Glinda and misunderstood green girl Elphaba.
Following an encounter with The Wizard, their friendship reaches a crossroads and their lives take very different paths.
Ashleigh, who lived in Fife until she was five, before moving to Newtongrange, is no stranger to the role, having played it on the West End.
“It’s such a uplifting and deeply moving piece,” she says. “I saw the original Broadway production and, to this day, remember being absolutely blown away by the sheer spectacle of it. When a show reaches out and touches you like that, you know it has to be something pretty special. I remember thinking I’d love to be part of a show like that and I couldn’t be happier to be bringing it to Edinburgh.”
Ashleigh first joined the cast of Wicked in London in 2007. She subsequently became standby Elphaba, and has played Elphaba on numerous occasions. Being home makes it all the more special however.
“It’s always lovely to play to my home crowd and it’s going to be even more special playing this incredible role. My family are all still local so my connection with Edinburgh and Midlothian is still very strong and I get home as often as I can.
“I do still have friends and teachers from school that I stay in touch with also. I was so lucky when I was at Newbattle High School to have incredible support, not only from teachers – in particular Lorraine Cormack, my music teacher – but also from the local community.
“I’ve no doubt they’ll all be there to support and I’m sure it will be just as exciting for me, knowing they are in watching.”
Playhouse general manager Adam Knight adds, “The Playhouse is renowned for bringing the best of Broadway to the capital at Christmas, securing the spectacular, award-winning musical Wicked means this year is no exception.
“We are also thrilled to welcome our very own Ashleigh Gray to Scotland’s favourite stage as she applies the famous make-up and prepares to defy gravity as we turn the city emerald for two months.”
Tickets priced £22.50-£75, are on sale now from 0844 871 3014
From Edinburgh to Milwaukee, Louise gets big break
A RISING city star has landed her first lead role in a Hollywood movie.
Edinburgh-born Louise Linton is starring opposite House of Cards and Gossip Girl actor Sam Page in a new romantic comedy.
The movie Serial Daters Anonymous – which is set in Milwaukee, Wisconsin – sees Ms Linton take on the role of a “good girl gone bad”.
In the movie, to be released early next year, she plays Claire, a soon-to-be married fashion columnist who enters the world of serial dating after finding out at the altar that her fiance had been cheating on her.
The Fettes-educated 28-year-old revealed that her first attempts at a midwest accent resulted in unintentional hilarity.
She said: “My pronunciation, at times, caused a few giggles on the set. There were only one or two problematic words for me.”
As well as working with Hollywood legends such as Warren Beatty and Robert Redford, Ms Linton was spotted at the Vanity Fair party at the Cannes Film Festival alongside A-list actresses Jennifer Lawrence, Naomi Watts and Cate Blanchett.