Tuesday, May 28, 2024

‘Wicked’ trailer hints at an edgier Glinda and showstopping Elphaba as played by Ariana Grande and Cynthia Erivo

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(CNN) — “Are people born wicked?” It certainly seems like Glinda – as played by Ariana Grande – might be in the latest trailer for the movie spectacle based on the Broadway musical (which, in turn, is based on the bestselling book by Gregory Maguire).

At first glance, the trailer released on Wednesday is a glorious dance of color and a symphony of two of the most revered musical voices in the business, that of Grande and Oscar-nominee and Tony-winner Cynthia Erivo. Watch the preview again, however, and you notice the nuanced performances, with Grande’s Glinda seeming to be a bit pricklier than the Glindas we’ve seen on stage portrayed by actors like the bubbly Kristin Chenoweth – who originated the role on stage.

Assigned to be roommates, Glinda brings her new green friend Elphaba (Erivo) to her pink-drenched room in the trailer. The clip even highlights a particularly salty moment when Glinda quips that she would give away a decidedly ugly hat – but she doesn’t “hate anybody that much” – subsequently entrusting it to Elphaba. It’s just one of the moments that suggest a bit more mean girl energy than simply “popular” energy from the Good Witch of the North.

Later on in the trailer, Elphaba’s notably strong powers are exposed, much to Glinda’s chagrin, leading headmistress Madame Morrible (Michelle Yeoh) to take notice and tell Elphaba, “you’re the one the Wizard has been waiting for.”

Elphaba brings Glinda along when she is summoned to the Emerald City to meet the powerful Wizard (Jeff Goldblum), and it is here that they both begin to realize that, as Elphaba says, “something bad is happening in Oz.”

“The best way to bring folks together is to give them a real good enemy,” the Wizard says, in a nod to some of the more political tones that suggest director Jon M. Chu’s cinematic retelling (over two parts) of a notoriously digestible Broadway musical will, perhaps, not shy away from highlighting the darker themes explored in the book..

Examples of that come in shots of disturbing propaganda imagery painting Elphaba as somebody to fear, including a large, scary banner of Elphaba draped over a building and a large wooden effigy of Elphaba on fire in the town square.

As the “Wicked” story goes, Glinda eventually does establish a sisterly bond with Elphaba, and that becomes clear in the trailer. But it’s Elphaba’s character arc that is the most compelling when Erivo’s chilling rendition of “Defying Gravity” rings out at the end of the preview. As Elphaba takes flight on her broomstick, she says, “I’m not afraid.”

“It’s the Wizard,” she continues, “who should be afraid of me.”

The hotly anticipated two-part “Wicked” movie is a cinematic adaptation of the famed Broadway musical, which is a prequel to “The Wizard of Oz.” It tells an alternate version of events in Oz before Dorothy’s arrival, exploring how Glinda and Elphaba’s “unlikely but profound friendship” evolves as their lives take different paths, according to an official synopsis.

“Their extraordinary adventures in Oz will ultimately see them fulfill their destinies as Glinda the Good and the Wicked Witch of the West,” the synopsis reads.

Jonathan Bailey, Bowen Yang, Ethan Slater and Peter Dinklage, among others, round out the ensemble cast.

“Wicked: Part 1” will hit theaters on November 27. “Wicked: Part 2” will follow in late 2025.

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