Wicked Star Cynthia Erivo Addresses Her Approach to Singing "Defying Gravity"

It's been nearly 20 years since Wicked first debuted and became one of the most popular Broadway musicals of all time. Wicked was based on Gregory Maguire's novel Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West, and the show was composed by Stephen Schwartz with a book by Winnie Holzman. The roles of Elphaba and Glinda were made famous by Idina Menzel and Kristin Chenoweth, and a movie adaptation had been rumored for years. Last year, it was officially announced that Ariana Grande would be taking on the role of Glinda and Cynthia Erivo would be playing Elphaba with In the Heights director Jon M. Chu set to direct. There are many iconic songs in the musical, but the most famous is probably the first act closer, "Defying Gravity." During a recent interview with Entertainment Weekly, Erivo talked about tackling the famous song.

"I've been listening to it, and I've sung it. I kind of just go with it naturally," Erivo explained while doing press for Disney's Pinocchio. "There's the temptation to push and to do too much with it. I don't know that that's what my method will be. I think my method will be to communicate the meaning of the song as much as I can."

Erivo praised Schwartz in the interview, calling Wicked "really spectacular." She added that it's "a piece about not being held back from the greatness that a person has within themselves and allowing themselves to soar beyond their own ideals or beyond their own possible wishes and to become as great as they're meant to be." She explained, "That's what that song is ... And I think if I make that the root, whatever comes out of my mouth, hopefully, will communicate that. You might hear things that are very me, but you might also hear things he wrote already."

Earlier this year, Chu announced that the Wicked movie would be released in two parts. 

"Here's what happened: As we prepared the production over the last year, it became impossible to wrestle the story of 'Wicked' into a single film without doing some real damage to it," Chu wrote in a statement. "As we tried to cut songs or trim characters, those decisions began to feel like fatal compromises to the source material that has entertained us all for so many years. We decided to give ourselves a bigger canvas and make not just one 'Wicked' movie but two! With more space, we can tell the story of 'Wicked' as it was meant to be told while bringing even more depth and surprise to the journeys for these beloved characters."

Wicked's first part is expected to be released in December 2024.