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Ethan Slater’s Spongebob co-star says she’s ‘surprised’ by Ariana Grande romance

Ariana Grande and Ethan Slater began dating while filming movie musical adaptation of ‘Wicked’

Meredith Clark
New York
Thursday 27 July 2023 08:43 BST
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Ethan Slater’s co-star has shared her “surprised” reaction to reports that her former Broadway cast member is dating Ariana Grande.

Lilli Cooper, who played Sandy Cheeks alongside Slater in “SpongeBob SquarePants: The Broadway Musical” from 2016 to 2017, described his new relationship with the “Thank U, Next” singer as “unexpected”.

“I was surprised,” she told Page Six on 25 July. “I haven’t spoken to him in a while. It’s an interesting coupling, for sure, unexpected.”

In 2016, Slater was cast in the lead role of Spongebob Squarepants during the show’s original Chicago production. The musical later was relocated to Broadway at the Palace Theatre in New York from 2017 to 2018. For his performance, Slater earned a Tony Award nomination for Best Actor in a Musical.

Last week, it was revealed that Ariana Grande and Ethan Slater are dating. The two reportedly sparked a romance while filming director Jon M Chu’s movie musical adaptation of Wicked in London. Grande plays Glinda in the upcoming film, initially scheduled for release in November 2024, while Slater will play Boq, the love interest of Elphaba’s sister Nessarose.

The news came as a surprise to many, considering the 30-year-old singer recently announced her split from husband Dalton Gomez after two years of marriage. Meanwhile, Slater had been in a relationship with his wife Lilly Jay for 10 years. The former couple were married in 2018 and welcomed a son last year.

“Ariana and Dalton separated in January,” a source told People at the time. “She and Ethan recently began dating, and he is separated from his wife.”

However, Slater’s wife was apparently “blindsided” by reports that the actors are dating. “It’s horrible. They were high school sweethearts,” a source told Page Six. “They have a baby! She’s a wreck.”

Sources also speculated that Slater’s connection with Grande is a reason why he and Jay “suddenly broke up now when nothing appeared wrong between them”.

Just last May, the Broadway alum shared a Mother Day’s tribute in honour of his wife. In an Instagram post featuring a photo of their infant son’s hands, he wrote: “Happy first Mother’s Day to the most loving caring and wonderful mom/person in the world.”

In November 2022, he celebrated their 10-year anniversary of being a couple with another Instagram post. “My best friend. Four years married. 10 together. And this is easily the best (and most bizarre) yet,” he captioned a slideshow of himself and Jay over the years.

Ariana Grande likes Ethan Slater’s posts (Instagram / Ethan Slater)

Following reports, fans discovered that Grande had even liked many of Slater’s Instagram posts for Jay. He has since made his Instagram private.

The Victorious alum married real estate broker Dalton Gomez at her home in Montecito, California, in May 2021. The two began dating in January 2020 and announced their engagement 11 months later. Now, Grande and Gomez have been separated since January and are “heading toward divorce,” according to TMZ.

They reportedly ​​tried to reconcile their marriage “a few months back,” but have been “having problems” since before Grande began filming Wicked in London. One source told People that Grande and Gomez “have been quietly and lovingly working on their friendship” since their separation.

“They came to the decision together. They were having problems before January, but they want to remain best friends,” a source told Page Six. “They’ve been really good friends throughout the entire process, and their friends and families have been trying to protect them.”

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