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My Thoughts on the Wicked Movie as a Theater Major

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UCLA chapter.

The upcoming Wicked movie based on the Broadway musical is set to hit theaters on November 27. And as your friendly neighborhood musical theater nerd, I am both excited and scared for what’s coming our way. On one hand, Wicked is the the second highest-grossing Broadway musical of all time, and it has touched the hearts of many theater kids and fans. On the other, I’ve watched so many movie-musical adaptations crash and burn…so I’m wondering if Wicked will soon be another in a long list of failed attempts to bring Broadway to the big screen. There are definitely some things the movie has already gotten right, but the final result waits to be seen. Until then, here are my initial thoughts on the Wicked movie:

Cynthia Erivo as Elphaba

If there’s one thing I’m counting on the Wicked team getting right, it is casting the powerhouse performer Cynthia Erivo as Elphaba. I was first introduced to Erivo through her Tony Award performance of The Color Purple in 2016. It’s one of those performances that must be seen to be described. Her vocals are jaw-droppingly amazing, just out of this world, and have been celebrated worldwide. Erivo’s acting is also top-tier. As a theater fan, it has been so exciting to watch Erivo’s journey to working in Hollywood, most notably her performance as the titular character in Harriet.

Jonathan Bailey as Fiyero

Jonathan Bailey, most known for his work in Bridgerton, is another theater star. If you want to see if his theater chops are on par with his acting in Bridgerton, there’s this one video of him auditioning for the London production of The Last Five Years. That video is all you need to see and is my personal inspiration as a performer. Bailey has a long resume of acclaimed London West End (the UK’s Broadway) productions. With so much experience under his belt, I am sure he will step into the role of Fiyero with ease. Bridgerton is already a testament to his ability to play a rakish heartthrob with a vulnerable interior.

Ariana Grande as G(A)linda

Everybody knows Ariana Grande, so I won’t spend too much time getting into it. Most people also know that Grande got her start working in theater. She made her Broadway debut in 13 The Musical before going on to work in Hollywood. I would be lying if I said Grande isn’t one of my biggest concerns with this film. When she did Hairspray Live in 2016, I sadly was not impressed. I know she has prepared a lot to play Glinda, working with Kristin Chenoweth who originated the role on Broadway. However, I am not sure if Grande will be able to let go of her pop vocal stylings. I also wonder if she will be able to fully embody the many facets of Glinda. Top this off with the Ethan Slater drama, I don’t know what to make of the situation. That being said, I am open and excited to see her take on this role.

Other Notable Cast

I am eager to see newcomer Marissa Bode’s performance as Nessa Rose. As an actor who uses a wheelchair, I am excited to see her bring more visibility to performers with disabilities. That being said I unfortunately could not find out much about Bode’s previous work, despite a good hour of stalking. We will have to wait and see. 

Ethan Slater, playing Boq, has caused a stir since he began dating Ariana Grande. I’ve seen a few videos of him in SpongeBob SquarePants: The Broadway Musical and I think he is a pretty great performer, especially in the outlandish role of SpongeBob. Yet, I also feel like all of the drama that has surrounded him this past year might jade my perception of his performance as Boq.

A few other standout cast members for me are Michelle Yeoh as Madame Morrible, Keala Seattle whose character is yet to be named, and Jeff Goldblum as The Wizard.

Final Thoughts

I understand that changes need to be made to adapt Wicked from the stage but I just really hope that this movie doesn’t lose the essence of what the show is. As a fan, I worry about cheap jokes, bad CGI, and the notoriously poor lighting in fantasy movies. Luckily, I have a lot of faith in director Jon M. Chu. Having seen his work in Crazy Rich Asians and In the Heights, I feel confident that Chu knows how to make a magical musical experience. 

But what happens with Wicked is yet to be seen. As a fan and theater person, I hope the movie captures the magic and heart of the original stage production, delivering an experience that will resonate with both new audiences and longtime fans alike. I hope everyone who attends gets to feel the magic and inspiration I first experienced when I saw Wicked many years ago. Clearly, I haven’t been able to let it go since.

Amanda is a third-year student at UCLA studying Theater and English. Originally from San Francisco, she is passionate about creating and sharing women-led stories and the power of artistic mediums as a form of activism. In her free time, Amanda loves to crochet, read YA novels, and watch sitcoms.