Last week, it was announced by Universal Studios that the musical that bought Idina Menzel into the mainstream is to be made into a feature length film to be released in 2019 (finally!).
I’ve been a fan of the show since I first saw it when it arrived at the Apollo Victoria Theatre in London in 2005. I was lucky enough to get to see Menzel in the lead role, something which I took for granted at the time but now am so thankful for. Since then, I have seen the musical once more at the West End in 2012 as well as a touring production at The Mayflower, Southampton in 2015. I have been yearning for a filmic adaption of the musical for YEARS and I can’t believe that it’s taken so long for the film to be put into production as it is so visually dynamic and filmic; perfect for the big screen.
But it’s finally upon us, so here is my dream casting for the musical’s leading characters.
The protagonist of the musical is the green misunderstood witch whom yearns to use her powers for good, saving the mistreated animals and citizens of Oz. However by using her powers to save those in need she uncovers that, those who have power in Oz are crooks and are lying to the nation. In turn, the Wizard turns the people of Oz against Elphaba, painting her out to be the Wicked Witch of the West.
In an ideal world, Idina Menzel would come back and reprise her starring role. However she is now to old to play the young twenty-something university student. I’ve seen on other blog posts people suggesting Glee‘s Lea Michele take the leading role as the similarities between her and Menzel as unparalleled in looks and voice control – to the point where Menzel played Michele’s mother in the hit TV series! But I feel this is a too obvious casting. We have seen her play the underdog in Glee and I think we need a fresh face to take the leading role.
I would like to see Les Miserables alum Samantha Barks take the lead role. She has proven in Tom Hooper’s film adaption that she is a power house player in the musical world. She is one of the biggest names to come out of the current generation of West End stars after coming in as second runner-up on the BBC show I’d Do Anything! where she interestingly sang Elphaba’s biggest number ‘Defying Gravity’. I think she’s got the voice, the talent and the musical recognition to pull off the role. The only thing lacking is her true star appeal as she has only featured in one blockbuster film, which could swinging casting directors and executives to go for a bigger household name.
The role was originated by the always smiling broadway legend, Kristin Chenoweth. Glinda – or Galinda as she is known at the beginning of the musical – is the roommate of Elphaba at Old Shizz and to say they did not originally get along, would be an understatement! However, as time goes on the old saying ‘opposites, attract’ comes into full swing. The pair go on to create mischief throughout the Emerald City and work together to overcome the atrocities in the city.
However, Glinda is more concerned with status and looks so leaves Elphaba and publicly opposes her in order to gain love and acclaim from her peers and the people of Oz.
In my opinion, in a reverse role, Lea Michele would be an interesting casting here. We’ve seen her sing multiple Wicked songs in Glee but it is always from the point of view of Elphaba, never as Glinda. I think it would be interesting to see her in a different role, the leader rather than the underdog. I’d love to see her sing ‘Popular’ and be annoyingly happy and smug all day long! We know she has the pipes to do it, so why not! She also has the teenage star power that Barks does not.
The male lead in the musical is love interest Fiyero. He meets and falls for Elphaba at Old Shizz during her resistance from authority. It is a forbidden and dangerous love affair as Elphaba’s new found friend Glinda is equally in love with Fiyero.
In a turn of events, Fiyero is found out by police and is thought to be tortured to gain information on Elphaba’s whereabout. In order to protect her lover, she casts a protection spell on him that changes his body to straw so no one can hurt him – he inadvertently becomes the Scarecrow whom Dorothy will meet on the yellow brick road.
Broadway’s sweetheart, Aaron Tveit is an easy casting. He has played the role in two separate stints on Broadway (in 2008 and 2009 respectively). Tveit has the star power shown in the warm audience reception he received on the most recent #Ham4Ham show which supports the Broadway phenomena Hamilton. The crowd’s went insane as Tveit sang a number from the hit musical Next To Normal.
Tveit equally has the smooth voice and boyish charm that Fiyero possess as well as the sex appeal that would pull in an older female audience. He also starred in Les Miserables as Enjorlas alongside Barks’ Epoinne. Tveit is PERFECT for the role as Fiyero and it would be a mistake not casting him.
Nessa Rose – The younger disabled sister of Elphaba and eventual Wicked Witch of the East, would be played brilliantly by five-time musical adaption star Anna Kendrick. Kendrick has starred in Into The Woods and the Pitch Perfect franchise, so we know she has an exceptional voice, but she is also a talented actress having been nominated for an Academy Award for Up In The Air. Kendrick would bring the passion and vulnerability that Nessa possess.
The Wizard – The human that arrived in Oz via a hot air balloon and is helmed the Great and Powerful Oz. But is in fact a fraud that tricks and mistreats the people of Oz. Elphaba uncovers his secrets and tries to tell the people of Oz only for him to turn there loyalty against her.If he has time in his extremely busy schedule (he’s writing songs for Disney’s
Moana, starring in the upcoming Mary Poppins sequel as well as finishing his run in his original musical Hamilton), Lin-Manuel Miranda would make an exceptional Wizard of Oz. He’s extremely talented and is the right age and has the undeniable Broadway acclaim that would make Wicked a success considering the current prices of Manuel’s final Hamilton performance (reportedly, upwards of $10,000!!).
Madame Morrible – The Headmistress of Old Shizz, Morrible coaches Elphaba and Glinda in there witchcraft. However she is believed to murder Doctor Dillamond and be the Wizard’s accomplish. Seeing as Idina Menzel is now too old to take the lead role, I think it would be a nice nod to the original production for her take a minor role in the film adaption. Morrible is the perfect role for that; understated yet vital to the plot.