After recently performing as both Meg and the Muses in Hercules (all while not standing up, incredibly on brand for her), Ariana Grande is further embracing her truest musical-theater self and accompanying Jason Robert Brown (remotely) for one of his SubCulture series concerts on April 27. They’ll be joined by Shoshana Bean, beltress extraordinaire, and the concert will support the venue’s staff and musicians. This is some very exciting news for musical-theater nerds of a certain stripe, so of course we had to convene here for a very important emergency Vulture conversation.
Jackson McHenry: First of all, I’m thrilled that 13 the Musical, Ari’s Broadway debut alongside The Good Wife’s Zach Florrick, is back in pop-culture relevance, but this has also precipitated what we can only describe as a deep emotional crisis for those of us theater nerds employed in Vulture. Madison, my first question, how are you reacting right now?
Madison Malone Kircher: This is the closest I’ve ever come to believing The Secret actually works. I made a dumb joke to Jason Robert Brown on a Broadway red carpet last year after they had just announced that 13 was getting a Netflix adaptation about how I was trying to manifest an Ariana Grande reunion with Brown for the film and, well, here we are. So I’m extremely calm, thank you for asking.
JM: Personally I screamed, “Ari, sing ‘All the Wasted Time!’” when I first saw this email, because of course, like any reasonable person, I’m trying to get a revival of Parade going.
MMK: Yes, but also I would need to hear her do it twice. Once as herself and once doing her best Carolee Carmello impression, a skill you just know she has on lock.
JM: AWLLL THE WAHSTEEED TAAAIME.
MMK: [Whisper riffs] AAAHHHH THE WAY-STEhhhh HOOOOOooooooOOOOUUUU! Yes, this is the line without most of its consonants.
JM: Shoutout, I have to add, to our friend Esther Zuckerman who has also been trying to will this specific Ariana Grande–JRB collaboration into existence. In addition to Parade, I feel like we’d have to see her dip into some Last Five Years? Maybe go full Kelli O’Hara and try some upper register Bridges of Madison County? There is of course “Jason’s Song,” the song that Jason Robert Brown actually wrote for Ariana Grande, but that’s not really the full musical-theater drama I need in this moment.
MMK: I feel like this is the perfect moment for Ari and Shoshana to duet “The Next Ten Minutes,” the queer The Last Five Years of my lesbian dreams. Ooooh, ooooh or maybe Ariana should do “It All Fades Away” from Bridge. I’d like to hear what she’d do with those truly never-endings “ahhhhhhhs.”
JM: The thought of a Shoshana-Ari duet is bringing me nearly as much excitement as the Erivo-Bean “When You Believe,” so I’m of course now also willing that to happen. Bridges-wise, I’d love it for either of them to do “Another Life” — Shoshana’s is excellent, and Grande could do some interesting stuff with the restraint of the song there, even if restraint isn’t her typical deal.
MMK: Is it incredibly basic theater girl of me to say I’d also really love to hear a Grande take on “Stars and the Moon”? Because if the answer is yes, then so be it. I’d really love to hear it. If you think about “Stars and the Moon,” all those men, you might say, taught her love, patience, and pain.
JM: Thank U, stars and the moon and the open highway, and the river beneath UR feet. I also feel strongly, seasonally appropriate or not, that Ari has practiced a version of “Surabaya-Santa” in full costume. Would also be thrilled to see Shoshana re-create her Encores! performance of said song.
MMK: Okay, so this is all going down on Monday, April 27 at 8. Which gives everyone plenty of time to watch (or rewatch) the featurette on YouTube about the recording of the 13 cast album. Baby Ari! Baby Graham Phillips! Baby that girl who was on a childhood sports team with me but we all didn’t quite understand that “doing acting” meant she was literally on Broadway! Consider this your homework.
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