Cynthia Erivo and Ariana Grande to Play Elphaba and G(a)linda in Wicked Movie Adaptation
After 84 years, Universal has finally found their leads for the long-delayed Wicked movie: Cynthia Erivo and Ariana Grande.
First a book by Gregory Maguire, Wicked was adapted and greatly transformed into the 2003 Broadway musical that has gone on to generate more than $1 billion in ticket sales and become a great soundtrack for AMV makers. Stephen Schwartz wrote the music and lyrics, and Winnie Holzman wrote the book for the Broadway version.
The musical is a take on the Wizard of Oz from the perspective of Elphaba the Wicked Witch of the West and Glinda the Good Witch, who meet in college and, through destiny and mixed racial metaphors, are forced to choose different paths. There is also a dude in it, but he doesn’t matter.
Universal has had an adaptation of the musical in the works since 2004, says The Hollywood Reporter, and this upcoming film is to be directed by In the Heights’ Jon M. Chu. Erivo will play Elphaba, while Grande will play Glinda.
Cynthia Erivo, is an English actress who won a Tony Award for playing Celie in The Color Purple revival and became an Academy Award nominee for her role in Harriet, a controversial one due to her comments about Black Americans. She is, without a doubt, a talented singer and actress with a Broadway background.
Ariana Grande, while best known for her R&B/Pop music, also has a Broadway background and was an actress before making the switch to pop music. I honestly would love to see her do a rendition of “Popular.”
This casting has gotten mixed response, due to the age of the actresses, who are supposed to play freshmen college students at the beginning of the story. Erivo is only two years older than Idina Menzel was when she originated the role, but still, that works on stage but may not in a film adaptation.
I think both women are fully capable of performing the roles, but musical adaptations are just a very mixed bag. Most don’t do well because there is something about the stage performance that is special.
As someone who has just recently seen Wicked on Broadway for the second time, I can say that the set design, production, and effects make it so much more compelling to watch. That’s especially true when Act 1 is really solid, but then Act 2 sort of us just … devolves into a rushed heteronormative love triangle with a lot of unnecessary references to The Wizard of Oz and really outdated ableism in how Nessarose/The Wicked Witch of the East is depicted.
For Wicked fans, this will be an exciting development, and hopefully it will at least do better than Cats and Dear Evan Hansen, because I don’t think the theatre kid community can take another blow.
(via THR, image: TORSTEN BLACKWOOD/AFP via Getty Images)
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