Duh, Cynthia Erivo Is Genius ‘Wicked’ Casting, But Actually Ariana Grande Is Too—Here's Why

Late last night, the world was finally gifted with the news that the upcoming Wicked film adaptation had cast its two lead roles.

In surprise Instagram posts, it was revealed that Cynthia Erivo would be filling the role of Elphaba, while Ariana Grande would take on Glinda. “Thank goodness,” Grande said on Instagram, while Erivo made a post saying, “Pink goes good with Green.”

The upcoming adaptation directed by Jon M. Chu (Crazy Rich Asians) is set to start production in 2022. The movie will be based around the 2003 Broadway musical of the same name, which was adapted from the 1995 book, Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West, which follows the story of Elphaba as she becomes the Wicked Witch.

After rumors swirled for months about who would fill the two roles previously portrayed by Idina Menzel and Kristin Chenoweth, we are quite happy with the results.

Erivo as Elphaba is almost a no-brainer (and one we're mad we didn't see coming). The Harriet actress is already flying towards EGOT status at only the age of 34, with a Daytime Emmy, a Grammy and a Tony Award under her belt (as well as two Oscar nods). Erivo has proven that she's got a killer voice, whether it was her award-winning turn as Celie in The Color Purple on Broadway, or her recent portrayal of Aretha Franklin in Genius: Aretha. (And how could we forget that stunning performance of “Stand Up” at the Academy Awards in 2020?)

However, don't count out Grande in the role of Glinda.

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David M. Benett/David Crotty/Getty Images

While some might see Grande's name and think, ‘The same actress from the cheesy Nickelodeon show Victorious?’ this is not a thoughtless casting. And while it might seem as if the producers are merely trying to cash in on one of the biggest pop stars in the world, Grande is more than just another teeny bopper.

At only the age of 15, the singer got her own experience on Broadway, when she filled the role of Charlotte in the musical 13. In addition, she also played Penny Pingleton in the recent Hairspray Live! and will feature in Adam McKay's upcoming black comedy Don't Look Up.

Needless to say, Grande also possesses a jaw-dropping four-octave vocal range, with the ability to display numerous vocal tricks and even hit a whistle register.

But, did we mention that one of Grande's mentors is none other than Kristin Chenoweth? Yep, the same woman who originated the role of Glinda for Wicked on Broadway.

While the two worked together on Hairspray Live!, they met long before that, when Grande was only 9 and she came to a performance of Wicked. Chenoweth told ET Canada, “Her nana and mom brought her backstage and [Grande] goes, ‘I want to be you when I grow up’...She came up to my waist, I felt like Heidi Klum. And then we stayed in touch.” When speaking of Chenoweth, Grande has said, “I learned everything I know from watching this woman.”

Throughout the years, Grande's love of Wicked stuck. Not only did she do a show-stopping rendition of “The Wizard and I” at the Wicked 15th Anniversary Special, but when she was 19 and an interviewer asked which role she would dream of playing, she said, “Glinda. For sure. I think that Elphaba's singing part would be more fun, singing-wise, but I think I'm more of a [Glinda].”

Guess it was written in the stars. We couldn't be more hype for this pairing.

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Joel Calfee

Associate Editor, News and Entertainment

Joel is the Associate Editor for News & Entertainment and has been reporting on all things pop culture for over 5 years. Before working at PureWow, he served as a Features...
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