In a shock casting rumour last week, it has been suggested that WICKED on Broadway has found their new green girl in international pop star Ariana Grande. Apparently, current Elphaba Jackie Burns (who has played the role on and off for 6 years), is ready to move on to pastures new so if you care to find her, be sure to look to the Western skies!
In an effort to introduce a new generation of fans to a new version of their childhood favourite ‘The Wizard Of Oz’, the young pop(ular) sensation Ariana Grande could soon be donning the iconic black hat. If so, she joins a long list of female performers who have cemented their places in musical theatre lore by playing the role on Broadway & West End, including Idina Menzel (who originated the role back in 2003, when Ariana was only 10 years old!), Eden Espinosa, Shoshana Bean, Stephanie J. Block, Kerry Ellis, Willemijn Verkaik and Rachel Tucker, to name but a few.
So, who is Ariana Grande? Ever since she released her debut hit 'The Way' in 2013, she has been a household name in the music industry but, did you know this would not be her Broadway debut? The envy of many young musical theatre performers, she won the role of Charlotte in the Broadway production of '13' in 2008, a play focusing on life growing up in New York City. The role led to accolades and Grande won a National Youth Theatre Association Award. She was only 15 at the time.
Her breakout role may have been on television, as Cat Valentine in Nickelodeon's 'Victorious' but in it, her character was an aspiring singer/actress at a performing arts school. She definitely has a theatrical grounding that many people don't know about! When 'Victorious' went off the air in 2012, Grande's character survived. She went to star in the Nickelodeon spin-off 'Sam & Cat', co-starring 'iCarly’s' Jennette McCurdy. The show ended in 2014, surrounded by gossip that Ariana was unhappy on set and looking to pursue her music career, which had been flourishing since 'The Way' was released the year before and hit the Billboard Top Ten. It seems to have been the right move, as Grande has been nominated for two Grammy Awards, won three American Music Awards, including Artist of the Year in 2016, and an MTV Video Music Award.
Ariana announced Elphaba as her dream role last year when doing Apple’s Carpool Karaoke with Seth MacFarlane, saying she would "do it tomorrow" if the role ever came her way. "I was a huge theatre nerd my whole life, still am," she added. "It's what I put on when I need to restore my soul and heal myself. It brings you back to home."
In the popular segment spin-off from 'The Late Late Show', she showed off her love of musical theatre, singing the iconic 'Suddenly Seymour' from 'Little Shop of Horrors'. However, her love for Elphaba may not be as pure as we think - eagle-eyed fans have found a video from an interview in 2013 when she claimed to be a Glinda in the making - watch it here: ...
Wicked was created by the musical genius Stephen Schwartz and is based on a book – Gregory Maguire's 'Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West'. A Hollywood film production has been touted for the last few years, but will be looking for new stars with Idina telling reporters “I would die to be in [the film], except...they told us we're a little over the age for that.” Showing producers she can sing the role 8 time a week on a Broadway stage might just be the foot in the door Ariana Grande needs for a Hollywood meeting about this, which may upset Lea Michele a little as the former Glee star has been touted as the new film Elphaba by fans ever since rumours of a film started swirling around.
Soon we hope to know, "which witch is which?". Grande's reps have yet to confirm if she is the new Broadway Elphie, so check back with us for further updates in just a tick of the Time Dragon Clock.
Keep up with writer Gemma Seren on Stagefaves.
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