Grammy Award-winning artist Ariana Grande may be known as the hottest name in the music industry with number-one songs up and down the Billboard charts, but this pop diva actually has roots that connect all the way back to Broadway. Before her name became synonymous with “Thank You, Next” or “Into You,” and before she tickled Nickelodeon viewers at home as the quirky Cat Valentine in Victorious and Sam & Cat, Grande was a young musical prodigy making her Broadway debut in 2008 with the musical 13.
Broadway musicals have a special place in Grande’s heart, made evident by the singer’s tweet from 2011 in which she wrote, “Loved seeing Wicked again… amazing production! Made me realize again how badly I want 2 play Glinda at some point in my life! #DreamRole.”
Fast-forward 10 years and Grande was eventually cast as a main character in the Hollywood adaptation of the Tony Award-winning musical – proving that dreams really do come true. Greenlit by Universal Pictures in 2012, Wicked will finally make its big screen debut in 2024 after over a decade in development hell.
Now that we have a light at the end of the tunnel, it’s safe to get our hopes up. Come 2024, Grande will bring the most iconic Wicked character to life, and while she has arguably one of the best set of pipes in the music industry, does she have what it takes to do the character justice?
Who will Ariana Grande play in Wicked?
As you can see from the first-look trailer above ⏤ which dropped during the 2024 Super Bowl ⏤ Grande will be playing Glinda the Good Witch in Wicked. The motion picture was previously marketed as Wicked: Part One, but the first-look trailer does not include that exact terminology, making us wonder if Wicked will be moving forward as a two-parter. Regardless, this adaptation is highly anticipated in its own right given that Wicked is one of the most popular musicals in Broadway history.
News of Grande’s casting was announced on Nov. 4 2021 via the singer’s Instagram account. “Thank goodness @jonmchu @cynthiaerivo @wickedmovie,” she wrote, tagging both the film’s director Jon M. Chu – known for both In the Heights and Crazy Rich Asians, and fellow co-star Cynthia Erivo – who will play Elphaba in the musical and is known for her Tony Award-winning performance as Celie in The Color Purple.
Glinda is an effervescent, popular (*wink*), and slightly annoying character, but that’s all part of her charm. She’s the best friend and assumed arch nemesis of Elphaba — aka the Wicked Witch of the West — but as we know from the musical, there’s much more to this friendship than meets the eye.
How is Ariana Grande connected to the original Glinda, Kristin Chenoweth?
Kristin Chenoweth was the original actress to bring Glinda to life on Broadway. Her bubbly portal and out-of-this-world vocal range earned her a Tony Award nomination for Best Actress in 2004. Her co-star Idina Menzel, who played the green-skinned Elphaba, was also nominated for Best Actress and won the same year.
Coincidentally, Chenoweth and Grande have a history that dates all the way back to when Grande was just 10 years old. The pair met backstage in Chenoweth’s dressing room during a showing of Wicked. As Chenoweth recalled in an interview with SiriusXM, Grande said, “I wanna be Glinda” when she met Chenoweth. Grande’s mother, who accompanied her daughter backstage, had Grande sing a quick song for Chenoweth, at which point Chenoweth realized this young girl actually did have some major talent. Now, Chenoweth refers to herself as Grande’s “musical mama.”
Needless to say, Grande has the stamp of approval for bringing the adaptation of Glinda the Good Witch to the big screen. Thankfully, we won’t have to wait much longer for it to come to fruition. After an initial release on Dec. 25, 2024, Wicked: Part 1 has been pushed up and will now premiere in theaters just shortly after Thanksgiving on Nov. 27, 2024.