Wicked | Jon M Chu confirms film will use live vocals

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Ariana Grande and Cynthia Erivo sang live on the set of Wicked and the results will be heard in the finished film, director Jon M Chu has confirmed.

The long-awaited adaptation of the beloved musical Wicked is heading to cinemas later this year. Well, at least the first part of it… A very sparkly, downright magical trailer was released recently and the hype is building for the film. 

Jon M Chu is on directing duties and has been chatting about how the film is getting on now that it is well into post-production. 

An interesting snippet from a huge interview feature with Vanity Fair (spotted by Deadline) is that the film won’t be recording the singing in a sound booth after filming is done. Stars Cynthia Erivo and Ariana Grande sang live on set. 

“These are live vocals,” Chu said. “When we were shooting it, those girls were like, ‘F— the pre-records. We’re going live.’”

I’m not an expert in singing or directing musicals (although a girl can dream), but singing live on set seems risky. Surely a lot of things can go wrong? 

Chu, too, was hesitant to go down the live singing route, telling his cast that there would be “a lot of wind” to deal with in their air pipes. 

Erivo and Grande persisted though and the final film will feature the women’s live singing. 

Wicked isn’t the first film to use live vocals: Tom Hooper’s 2012 musical epic Les Misérables also had its cast sing its complex musical numbers live. It’s all good when you have experienced singers like Hugh Jackman, but Russell Crowe’s performance and pipes were the subject of much ridicule at the time the film came out. 

Good thing both Erivo and Grande, who play Elphaba and Galinda respectively, are both experienced in the singing department. We’re particularly interested in hearing how Erivo tackles the notoriously difficult song ‘Defying Gravity’.

Wicked: Part One is in cinemas 27th November. 

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