The Wicked Movie Is Seeking Real Wheelchair Users For A Key Role

Kristin Chenoweth and Idina Menzel perform 'For Good' from the musical Wicked for the YouTube #OutOfOz series.
(Image credit: Wicked The Musical's YouTube)

Development for the Wicked movie is well underway after years of delays now that In The Heights’ Jon M. Chu is working on it. The movie musical will see Ariana Grande take on Glinda and Cynthia Erivo as Elphaba in the Wizard of Oz origin story that has become a Broadway mainstay over the years. Ahead of production beginning in 2022, more casting is taking place, with one key role creating a mass search for a talented wheelchair user. 

As fans of the musical will know, Elphaba’s younger sister in the musical is Nessarose Thropp, who is physically disabled following complications during birth. In one key musical number in Wicked, Nessa being a wheelchair user comes to the forefront during “Dancing Through Life” when she thinks she cannot take part in the festivities. As revealed by The Telsey Office open casting call for the role, the Wicked production is looking to “cast authentically,” specifically with “wheelchair users” being “strongly encouraged” to try out for the part. 

As the casting search details, rehearsals are set to begin in summer 2022 in the United Kingdom. The Universal production is looking for a female in the age group of 18 to 30 of any ethnicity to play the role of Nessarose. As the story goes, Nessa has spent most of her life in a wheelchair, but has a romantic night getting to know a Munchkin boy named Boq and becomes obsessively attached to him. Her ultimate origin story is to become the Wicked Witch of the East, who memorably has a less than glowing relationship with the Munchkins later in her life. 

It’s certainly an incredible and rare opportunity for the lucky talented actor and singer, who may be a wheelchair user and get to play the role. The role has not been played by actual wheelchair users in the past and could be a great chance to open the door for this community in a major movie musical. 

At the top of 2021, GLAAD reported that the percentage of regular characters with a disability saw a slight increase, up to 3.5% from the year prior’s 3.1%. People with disabilities are severely underrepresented in movies and television, though we’re beginning to see more real wheelchair users play roles like these. For example, in the Hulu hit Run, Kiera Allen, who is a real wheelchair user nabbed the role, but it wasn’t without some people reportedly faking disabilities to star in the Sarah Paulson movie. By the way, Allen would honestly be a great choice for Nessa if she can sing! 

That being said, it’s important that the disabled community gets a chance to shine with numerous actors getting a chance to play these roles. Wicked is in its early stages of production, so we’ll keep you updated here on CinemaBlend as more developments come in. 

Sarah El-Mahmoud
Staff Writer

Sarah El-Mahmoud has been with CinemaBlend since 2018 after graduating from Cal State Fullerton with a degree in Journalism. In college, she was the Managing Editor of the award-winning college paper, The Daily Titan, where she specialized in writing/editing long-form features, profiles and arts & entertainment coverage, including her first run-in with movie reporting, with a phone interview with Guillermo del Toro for Best Picture winner, The Shape of Water. Now she's into covering YA television and movies, and plenty of horror. Word webslinger. All her writing should be read in Sarah Connor’s Terminator 2 voice over.