The official casting for Elphaba and Glinda in the highly anticipated Wicked film has finally been announced! For years, theatre fans have been waiting to find out who would play the dearly beloved witches and now we have them.
This November, director of Universal’s Wicked movie John Chu announced that Ariana Grande will be playing Glinda and Cynthia Erivo will play Elphaba. Both Ariana and Cynthia have been involved in Wicked-related events. Ariana sang “The Wizard and I” at the 15th anniversary special, and Cynthia sang “I Couldn’t Be Happier” at Wicked In Concert. These performances were both beautiful and definitely put them on the casting director’s radar for the film.
Before the announcement, many other actresses were rumoured to be potential witches. One of the most talked-about hopefuls was Dove Cameron as Glinda, which led many fans to be confused when she did not receive the role. Some of the actresses that fans had been rooting for to be Elphaba included Lea Michelle, Ariana DeBose, and ironically enough: Ariana Grande.
This casting announcement led to many split reactions. Half of the fans are nervous or upset, while others are very happy with the choices. Here are my thoughts:
I was not extremely familiar with Cynthia Erivo’s work prior to her being announced as Elphaba. After finding out, I rushed to YouTube to look up performances and quickly decided she will do an amazing job in Wicked. She is extremely talented and also a fan of the show. She is also a talented actress, and not only has she played many amazing on-screen roles but she has also appeared on broadway. Having experience in both theatre and TV/film will allow her to perfectly bring an on-stage role to the big screen.
In addition to talent, I think it was a great choice to cast a Black actress as Elphaba. The character faces many challenges and discrimination due to simply being green. Many BIPOC women can relate to Elphaba, yet the majority of actresses who have played her on stage have been white.
One worry fans have with Cynthia is that Elphaba is a freshman in college while Cynthia is 34-years-old. This was a problem in the recent musical movie Dear Evan Hansen, where many bad reviews blasted Ben Platt’s age in contrast to the character’s age, which resulted in a lack of realism. Although this has been brought up a few times, I think Cynthia will pull it off and it won’t become as huge a problem as it was made to be in Dear Evan Hansen. With all of these factors in mind, I think casting Cynthia will bring honesty, power and authenticity to the on-screen portrayal of Elphaba.
Ariana Grande is one of my favourite people ever. I also love musical theatre, so to say I am excited about this is an understatement. Many are skeptical about whether or not she will successfully pull off this role. Some are worried that because she is a mainstream pop star, they will only see Ariana on screen, not Glinda. Others do not think she has the acting skills needed to portray this character.
I understand the concern as we have only really seen her act as Cat Valentine in Victorious, and ever since she has been type-cast into playing the same role over and over. Viewers have never seen her do anything different in acting, which can be risky.
Although Ariana’s acting resume does not include any groundbreaking roles, she definitely has the vocal ability for the character. She is known to be a huge theatre fan and has said in multiple interviews that being in Wicked is one of her dream roles. Kristin Chenoweth (who originated the role of Glinda on broadway) approves of this casting decision. She couldn’t be happier according to this recent Instagram post where she shares an old photo from a backstage meet and greet with 10-year-old Ariana Grande as well as a sweet congratulatory caption. While many have shown concern over this casting choice, I believe Ariana loves and respects Wicked enough to truly put her all into this character.
Overall, I am super excited to see what both Cynthia and Ariana will do with these iconic roles. I can’t to find out who else will be a part of the Wicked movie cast!