I have to start off by saying that the casting of Erivo is simply divine and one that many musical lovers were rooting for. Known for her stellar performance in the Broadway revival of The Color Purple, for which she won the Tony Award for best actress, Erivo has the strong belt and emotionality required for the demanding role of Elphaba (listen to her version of ‘I’m Here’ if you don’t believe me). I’m yet to see one person question her ability to perform this role.
However, in this case, pink definitely does not go good with green. The casting of Ariana Grande in the operatic role of Glinda is fundamentally disappointing, but sadly, not surprising. Granted, Grande started her career in musical theatre with a role in 13 on Broadway in 2008 and has undeniably fantastic vocals, but the evidence for this casting choice ends there.
Of course, a big name like Grande is going to bring a whole new audience into the realm of musical theatre – so from a ticket selling point of view, the choice makes sense. But there is no arguing with the fact that there are thousands of people who deserve this role more. Even her underwhelming 2016 performance as Penny Pingleton in Hairspray Live proved that her vocals belong in the world of pop. The singer’s mezzo belt is simply not suited to the role – if anything she’d surely make a better Elphaba. I don’t think I’m alone in expecting the final notes of ‘No one mourns the wicked’ to be turned into whistle notes…
However, as I sit and mourn this nightmare come true, the world turns to the rest of the casting yet to be announced. Many call for Wicked alumni Kristen Chenoweth or Idina Menzel to star as Madame Morrible, and a petition to keep James Corden out of the movie has actually gone viral. I for one can’t wait to see what surprises lie in store.