One of the most iconic of plays comes to Hereford in the spring to spend a week at The Courtyard, as The Importance of Being Earnest visits the city on its UK tour.

Starring alongside Gwen Taylor and Susan Penhaligon is an actress who has been on countless stages in the course of her career, but never before in a straight acting role. Because until now Kerry Ellis's performances have all featured music - from playing Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady to the gorgeously green Elphaba in Wicked - and she admits that she's nervous and excited in equal measure at the prospect of her first entirely spoken role.

"Alistair spotted me on facebook talking about my tour (Kerry will be juggling her schedule during the spring as she simultaneously tours with Earnest and her own 20th Anniversary tour), and he basically gave my agent a call and asked would I consider it," Kerry explains. "I was overwhelmed and said 'of course, I'd love to.' You don't get offers like this every day. So we had a chat and that was that. Now I've got the script and we're on our way."

It is, she concedes, a challenge, "but I have always looked at doing lots of different things at the same time - it keeps things fresh and keeps me excited. I always try to keep my options open and I love variety.

"But this is so different, and I was blown away that Alistair asked me."

Not that Kerry is a stranger to finding herself in the right place at the right time and willing to embrace a challenge. Her name came to the notice of the media when she stepped in to the role of Eliza Doolittle when not only was the star, Martine McCutcheon, unable to go on, but the first understudy was also indisposed. Cue Kerry Ellis, whose moment in the spotlight lit the blue touchpaper. By chance, Brian May was in the audience that night, which led to her appearing in We Will Rock You, but it's an association that's gone further with the duo performing together for the Born Free Foundation.

Taking on her first non-singing role is just one of the challenges Kerry has been keen to embrace in the course of a career that started at a local musical theatre group in Ipswich. For the last year she's also been presenting a radio show for Encore Radio - "They came to me when they were looking for a musical theatre presenter and I can't believe it's been a year already."

Currently, though, Kerry is hard at work learning the lines. "I think this is actually the perfect play to be my first. It's very well-known, it's funny and it moves very quickly. It just makes me laugh and I can relate to Gwendolen so it was a challenge I was attracted to, that and working with people I had never worked with before.

"But I don't know how I'm going to feel (doing a whole show) not having a song!"

The Importance of Being Earnest runs at The courtyard from Monday, February 5 to Saturday, February 10. To book, call the box office on 01432 340555 or visit