Though she’s best known for her pop/R&B style studio albums in 2020, artist Ariana Grande actually got her start in theater. Her debut in the Broadway musical 13 not only got her exposure as a talented performer, but it established a few of the friendships the Grammy-winning artist holds closest to her to this day.
Ariana Grande made her Broadway debut in ’13’
After performing in local productions and at events in her home state of Florida, Grande got her first big career break when she was cast in the Broadway production of 13. The Jason Robert Brown musical follows a boy, Evan Goldman, who moves to a new school and attempts to gain popularity by inviting fellow students to his Bar Mitzvah.
The production is unique in the cast is entirely composed of teenage stars. Grande portrayed Charlotte, a cheerleader. 13 ran for a few months from 2008-2009, and was followed by a West End production (which Grande and the original cast were not a part of). The show marks Grande’s only Broadway production to date.
She joined the cast with lifelong friend Aaron Simon Gross
Grande has several friends who regularly show up on her social media profiles. Among them is Aaron Simon Gross, who the paparazzi once mistook for her boyfriend, Dalton Gomez. Gross portrayed Archie in 13, but he and Grande were friends before the show even began.
In a video for Broadway.com, Grande recounted how she auditioned the same day Gross got a callback. “Our parents, they have no idea what to do with themselves,” she said. “They think it’s just the craziest thing in the world that two best friends from Boca Raton, Florida, are now in a Broadway show together.”
Grande dated her co-star, Graham Phillips
Grande made friends during production as well. In fact, she and Graham Phillips, who portrayed the main character, Evan, starting dating in 2008. The pair attended events like the 3rd Annual Broadway in South Africa Concert in 2010 and Project Angel Food’s 2011 Divine Design Gala, above.
While they called it quits in 2011, Grande and Phillips have remained friends. They once attended a 13 reunion dinner together in 2016, as seen in photos shared on their Instagram accounts. In early 2019, they hung out again, this time singing the duet “As Long As You’re Mine” from Wicked.
She’s also stayed close with Elizabeth Gillies
Another one of Grande’s longest-lasting friendships began with 13. Elizabeth Gillies, who portrayed Lucy, met during the Broadway show. Not long after it ended, they reunited across the country, when both were cast in the Nickelodeon series Victorious, portraying Cat Valentine and Jade West.
Gillies and Grande have remained friends ever since. They often post photos together hanging out, and Gillies was present at the aforementioned musical get-together with Phillips as well as a virtual Victorious reunion celebrating the show’s tenth anniversary in 2020. Additionally, she co-starred in Grande’s “Thank U, Next” music video.
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