Universal’s adaptation of the iconic Broadway show Wicked has found its Elphaba and Glinda The Good Witch in Cynthia Erivo (Widows) and Ariana Grande.
Announced via their Instagram accounts, the film will see them journey to the land of Oz in a prequel story detailing the backstories of The Wicked Witch of the West and Glinda The Good Witch. The film will be directed by Jon M. Chu (the man behind Crazy Rich Asians). Check out the IG posts below:
A film adaptation of Wicked has been in the works since 2004. At that time, J.J Abrams, James Mangold, a pre-Glee and AHS Ryan Murphy, and Rob Marshall (who had previously directed the smash hit Chicago) were considered for the director’s chair. In 2012, Stephen Daldry was announced as director and Winnie Holzman (who had penned the musical’s book) as screenwriter.
Due to production problems, a planned 2019 release date was instead given to the live-action adaptation of Cats, which became an infamous box-office bomb. A new release date of December 22, 2021 was announced, but the film was pushed back yet again on April 1, 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Followed swiftly by Daldry exiting the project over scheduling conflicts on October 20 of that year. Jon M. Chu signed on to direct in February 2021 and songwriter Stephen Schwartz stated filming would start later that year in Georgia.
Ariana Grande and Cynthia Erivo Join Wicked
For those not familiar with Erivo or Grande, both have spent the past several years rising through the acting and music worlds. Erivo has appeared in 2018’s Widows (a film adaptation of the British TV show), starred as Harriet Tubman in the 2019 biopic Harriet, the 2020 TV series The Outsider, the 2021 sci-fi film Chaos Walking, the 2021 TV series Genius (wherein she portrayed Aretha Franklin) and is set to play The Blue Fairy in Disney’s 2022 live-action remake of Pinocchio.
Grande began her career as Cat Valentine on the Nickelodeon teen sitcom Victorious from 2010-2013, during and after which she began a musical career. She also appeared in the crossover/spin-off series Sam & Cat for Nickelodeon with iCarly’s Jeannette McCurdy. No other casting choices or a release date have been announced as of this writing, but we’ll update you with more Wicked news as it blows into Oz.
The original Wicked was written in 1995 by Gregory Maguire entitled Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West. Taking place before and during the events of The Wizard of Oz, the story shed new light on the villain’s path to evil and her complex relationship with Glinda The Good Witch during their formative years.
The Broadway play began in 2003 starring Idina Menzel as Elphaba and Kristin Chenoweth as Glinda and was met with critical acclaim and financial success, becoming one of the most celebrated shows ever to hit the Broadway stage. Its success arguably popularized the idea of sympathetic villain origin stories and opened the door for similar villain tales like Disney’s Maleficent and Cruella film series alongside other reinterpretations of fairy tale properties for the modern age. Other Oz media include Return To Oz from 1984 and 2011’s Oz: The Great and Powerful. The Illuminerdi will update you on more Wicked news as it becomes available and when the film eventually releases. Hopefully this new trip to Oz yields magical results.
What do you think of Cynthia Erivo and Ariana Grande’s casting for Wicked? Have you read the original book and/or stage play? Did you ever see it on Broadway? How old were you when you first saw The Wizard of Oz? Let us know in the comments below and on our Twitter.