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Much-loved actor and Shakespeare around town Ellis Creez dies

Janet Ford, of Tudor World museum in Stratford, pays tribute to her friend and colleague, Ellis Creez, who died at the age of 43.

Ellis Creez, familiar to many as one of the Shakespeare actors often seen around Stratford, has died suddenly at the age of 43.

Ellis and his partner and then girlfriend Rebecca Hallworth joined Tudor World in March 2014 to undertake workshops for schools, but mainly to play Shakespeare on the tours of Stratford.

Born and bred in the Black Country, Ellis attended Britannia High School in Rowley Regis. One of our other guides, William Stafford was at one time his drama teacher and became another life-long friend.

Will said: “The school motto was ‘Upright and Thorough’ causing Ellis and I much laughter and amusement.”

Ellis Creez, right, and William Stafford.
Ellis Creez, right, and William Stafford.

A love for drama and words were a major passion throughout his life, and he went on to train at Birmingham Theatre School and also had a degree in English studies from Oxford Brookes University. Typical of Ellis’ humour, on his actor’s profile website that he speaks English language, British English, English English, Old English and Slanguage.

Despite his slight build, Ellis was a man of great presence and charm and we all liked him immediately. He always had a ready smile, jokes and laughter. He was a big hit with the schoolchildren too, who could always relate to his innate sense of fun.

Ellis had a high level of interest in many things including music, drama, films and writing. He often seemed like an old soul in a young body, loving old black and white films – his special favourite was Terry Thomas.

Another friend of his, Tim Winters recalled: “I met Ellis some 12 years ago when, along with my best mate, John Highton, he appeared in a touring production of Danger Mouse for Katch 22 Productions. We hit it off immediately, having a mutual appreciation of the written and spoken word, plus a love of classic TV sitcoms such as Dad’s Army, Steptoe and Son and Hi de Hi. He was a mercurial will o’ the wisp with an impish grin that could charm the birds off the trees. Ellis would take a real delight when he stayed with me in my leafy village in south Derbyshire in walking down to the newsagents, dressed in a Superman onesie and a pair of either yellow or silver shoes, relishing the shocked look on the faces of the locals.

“In retrospect, I feel that he was never to achieve longevity. Old age and infirmity would never be allowed to dull his spirit. He brought sunshine into all our lives, and a few spells of rain too. He was annoying and loveable in equal measures but I for one will never forget him.”

Ellis, centre, with John Ford and William Stafford at Tudor World
Ellis, centre, with John Ford and William Stafford at Tudor World

Ellis also enjoyed the quirky humour of people like Spike Milligan and from this kind of humour wrote a few books like Nurk the Lurk and A Jolly Good Show (coming out soon) and was working on another script just before he died.

His favourite quote was ‘Nearly everything you do is of no importance, but it is important that you do it’ – Mahatma Gandhi.

Ellis was due to play Charles Dickens at Tudor World last Christmas but the museum was closed due to the pandemic. He was also looking at some one-man shows about John Le Mesurier and Terry Thomas. He could play them all with ease.

Ellis during tea at Tudor World
Ellis during tea at Tudor World

He took over the Stratford Play House with his business partners in 2018. Long standing insecurities and anxieties re-emerged under the stress and he parted company with the Play House and his partner of eight years who had been a positive and stabilising influence on his life. The pandemic, long periods of inactivity, the death of his nan and a terminal diagnosis for his dad added further strain on a fragile soul.

Ellis was very much part of Stratford as well as Tudor World – he had worked for the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, RSC undertaking tours and, latterly, Magic Alley.

Friend Sam Jenkins, head of events at Magic Alley, said: “I first met Ellis when I put on my Hallowe’en show, A Midsummer Night’s Scream, at the Play House in 2018 and we hit it off straight away. His sense of fun and silliness struck a chord with me as he seemed to be such a jolly chap. We worked together on the Snow White panto programme later that year – the year he starred as the dame and had many a laugh over how ropey he looked in drag.

Ellis as the panto dame at the Play House
Ellis as the panto dame at the Play House

“Ellis was at his best in performance mode whether it was playing the dame or mincing around as Shakespeare. He was a dear friend and I shall miss him greatly.”

On 1st January his beloved father and anchor died of a brain tumour and Ellis never quite recovered from this blow. Ellis stayed with us for a while before returning to help his mother with funeral arrangements.

In the last few weeks he seemed to be getting better and told us he was eating better and sleeping better. All his worried friends relaxed a tiny bit (a few of us had taken it in turns to have him stay with us), but behind his ready smile lay a sadness that had not gone away, and possibly as a last-minute thought, he took his own life on the 1st July.

Many of his friends said that although Ellis did many acting jobs, he considered himself an ‘entertainer’ first and foremost.

My overriding memories will be that Ellis did not understand how well he was loved. He always made you smile with his innate sense of silliness, his ready smile and how quick he was to laughter. He had beautiful piercing blue eyes and skinny legs, which he used to great comedic effect at times, as he never took himself seriously. We will miss you Ellis. You have left a great gap in all our hearts and you had so much more to give the world.

Ellis is survived by his mother, Linda, and brother, Lewis, who said they wish the funeral to be small and quiet.

Tudor World and Magic Alley are arranging a ‘Celebration of Life’ on his birthday in September, and his friends are organising a memorial plaque to be placed at the Dell overlooking the Avon. To contribute to this memorial – excess funds will be given to his family – visit www.justgiving.com and search for ‘Ellis memorial plaque’.

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