Why Ariana Grande Was a Glinda This Whole Time

Film & TV Features   Why Ariana Grande Was a Glinda This Whole Time
 
The Broadway-obsessed pop icon will star opposite Cynthia Erivo in the Wicked movie. In retrospect, her casting was a long time coming.
Ariana Grande and Kristin Chenoweth
Ariana Grande and Kristin Chenoweth

Let us be glad, let us be grateful, because the Wicked movie has finally found its Elphaba and Glinda. Tony winner and Oscar nominee Cynthia Erivo will go green as Elphaba, while pop star (and one-time Broadway alum) Ariana Grande will teach us all about popular as Glinda.

As fans speculated over the years about who should star in the long-gestating film, Grande’s name was a usual suspect—though typically for Elphaba. Kristin Chenoweth—Broadway’s original Glinda herself—is on the record rallying for Grande to be cast as the green girl once it came time to bring the musical to the big screen. But director Jon M. Chu saw differently, and, as it turns out, the clues were all there: Ariana Grande was a Glinda this whole time. Let’s break this down.

A Decade-Long Manifestation

Nearly 10 years ago, Grande tweeted after a repeat visit to the show (relatable) that seeing the production reinforced her desire to play Glinda. She echoed this in a 2013 interview, even offering up some of Glinda’s “For Good” verse. Well, she got her wish—and perhaps in a much bigger way than her 18-year-old self had envisioned.

She Can Provide Her Own Props

Grande has apparently kept a little piece of Glinda with her ever since seeing the show as a kid. When Chenoweth stopped by The Kelly Clarkson Show in 2019, she shared that she first met Grande (and her Nonna) backstage at Wicked after a performance, and, impressed with Grande’s star potential after hearing her sing, gifted her a wand. “I said, ‘Keep that with you,’ and she kept it all these years,” Chenoweth said.

She’s Already a Bit Chenowethian

Grande is famously a skilled impersonator, with uncanny imitations of such icons as Celine Dion, Jennifer Coolidge, and, astonishingly, three-time Tony Award nominee Carolee Carmello under her belt. But she recently showed off an especially auspicious take on the soprano with a twang on The Voice (Chenoweth serves as coach Grande’s mentor on the current season). The impression, which focused primarily on Chenoweth’s fondness for 7-Eleven, got the seal of approval: “That was dead on.”

She Knows About ‘Popular’

Grande showed off her Elphaba chops with “The Wizard and I” for Wicked’s 15th anniversary special on NBC, but it was a Glinda moment that landed on the Billboard Hot 100. Mika’s 2012 single “Popular Song,” featuring Grande, samples the musical’s ode to public image. Admittedly, the music video is less Wicked and more Sweeney Todd, and the bubbles are the result of a brewed potion rather than a cutesy mode of transportation. Still, Grande is no stranger to laying down some Glinda tracks.

Toss, Toss

Come on. She’s already a pro at G(a)linda’s signature move.

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