The anticipation is over, as we now have our full principal company of NBC’s upcoming “Hairspray Live!” broadcast. Based on the 2002 Broadway musical and John Water’s 1988 film, the show follows Tracy Turnblad, a plus-sized dancer in 1960s Baltimore who strives to bring integration and diversity — big and small, black and white — to the local dance program, The Corny Collins Show, in the midst of the Civil Rights Movement.
Fresh off the success of both their respective broadcasts, Kenny Leon (“The Wiz Live!”) and Alex Rudzinski (“Grease Live!”) will co-direct, with a score by Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman, choreography by Tony-winner Jerry Mitchell, and a script adaptation by Harvey Fierstein, who also reprises his gender-bending, Tony-winning role of Edna Turnblad, Tracy’s mother. Craig Zadan and Neil Meron produce.
Like it’s NBC Live predecessors, the “Hairspray Live!” cast features a diverse mix of screen, stage, television, and music artists:
Maddie Baillio as “Tracy Turnblad”
Like every major Tracy before her, Baillio arrives as a newcomer, having beaten out almost 1,000 other women for the role. She’s a sophomore at Marymount Manhattan College and an alumna of the Songbook Academy®.
Dove Cameron as “Amber von Tussle”
Many know Cameron for her duel roles in the Disney Channel television series “Liv and Maddie.” She also starred in the Disney Channel Original Movie “Descendants” and will reprise her role, “Mal,” in the upcoming sequel.
Kristin Chenoweth as “Velma von Tussle”
This Tony-winning soprano has made appearances in numerous stage, movies, and television shows, however most musical theatre fans know her as the original “Glinda” in the hit Broadway musical Wicked. Chenoweth will return to Broadway for a series of concerts this November to promote her new album “The Art of Elegance.” Having also starred in DCOM’s “Descendants,” this role marks her second time playing the villainous mother to Cameron.
Garrett Clayton as “Link Larkin”
As another Disney Channel star, Clayton burst onto the scene in 2013 when he starred in “Teen Beach Movie,” a modern send-up of 60s beach party films. It’s no accident he bares a slight resemblance to Zac Efron, who played Link in the 2007 film.
Billy Eichner as “Rob Barker”
While chances of Eichner doing any actual singing or dancing in the show are slim (he’ll play the local TV newscaster for Baltimore’s WZZT), the comedian has enough charm and humor to bring to the table. His comedy game show, “Billy on the Street,” earned him a Daytime Emmy nomination in 2013. He joined “Parks and Recreations” in its sixth season, and currently stars in the Hulu show “Difficult People.”
Harvey Fierstein as “Edna Turnblad”
There’s no question that this Broadway and film powerhouse has one of the most distinctive voices in entertainment, both in acting and writing. His play, Torch Song Trilogy, earned him two Tony Awards. He won another writing the book for La Cage aux Folles.
Ariana Grande as “Penny Pingleton”
Many have likened this Nickelodeon star and recording artist’s style and vocal range to Mariah Carey. She’s received two Grammy nominations and an MTV Video Music Award for her music. Her third album, “Dangerous Woman” debuted at number 2 on the Billboard 200. Grande got her start in 2008, making her Broadway debut in Jason Robert Brown’s musical 13.
Sean Hayes as “Mr. Pinky”
This Broadway vet earned an Emmy Award and multiple SAG Awards for his outstanding portrayal of goofy, flamboyant, and frequently unemployed actor Jack McFarland on the hit NBC sitcom “Will & Grace.” He’s since starred in multiple movies and television shows, such as the short-lived “Sean Saves the World.” He recently closed the limited return engagement of An Act of God on Broadway.
Derek Hough as “Corny Collins”
The competitive Latin and ballroom dancer gained wide recognition when he joined the ranks of professional instructors of ABC’s dance competition show “Dancing with the Stars,” which he’s won five times. He’s received two Emmy Awards for his choreography. Now in its 23rd season, Hough is paired with Marilu Henner.
Jennifer Hudson as “Motormouth Maybelle”
Hudson is no stranger to musical theatre, as she recently made her Broadway debut in the Tony-winning revival of The Color Purple as “Shug Avery.” She won an Oscar, a Golden Globe, a BAFTA Award, and a SAG Award in 2007 for her breakout performance as “Effie White” in the Dreamgirls film adaptation. Since then, she’s appeared in several films and released three studio albums.
Andrea Martin as “Prudy Pingleton”
One of Broadway’s favorite comediennes has appeared in countless films and TV shows, and recently picked up a Tony nomination for her performance in Noises Off. Martin also has two Tonys for My Favorite Year and her high-flying performance in the Diane Paulus-helmed Broadway revival of Pippin.
Rosie O’Donnell as “The Gym Teacher”
O’Donnell has been a long-time fan of Broadway, having appeared in several shows and creating Rosie’s Broadway Kids, a charitable organization bringing free music and dance instruction to New York City public schools. She’s received multiple Emmy Awards for “The Rosie O’Donnell Show” and for hosting the 52nd Annual Tony Awards.
Martin Short as “Wilbur Turnblad”
Short’s last stint on Broadway was the Terrance McNally play, It’s Only a Play. He has multiple stage, film, and television credits to his name, including his recent NBC variety show, “Maya & Marty,” which also starred comedienne Maya Rudolph.
Ephraim Sykes as “Seaweed J. Stubbs”
Sykes has five Broadway credits under his
dance-belt, including Newsies, Motown, and Hamilton. He recently appeared in the Martin Scorsese and Mick Jagger HBO series “Vinyl.”
Shahadi Wright Joseph as “Little Inez”
Any young singer who can pull off Streisand deserves all the amount of praise. Joseph made history at the age of 9 by being the youngest actress to play the role of “Young Nala” in The Lion King. She joined the cast of School of Rock in 2015. Additionally, she attends Trey Whitfield School.
Paul Vogt as “Mr. Spritzer”
Vogt is no stranger to Hairspray, as he performed the role of Edna on Broadway in 2007. He’s appeared in several films and television shows, including the long-running comedy sketch show “MADtv.”
Members of the ensemble cast include: Josh Alexander, William Bell, Helene Britany, Riley Costello, Kelli Ann Erdmann, Zack Everhart, Sam Faulkner, Annie Gratton, Thomasina Gross, Marissa Heart, Joanna Jones, Jacque Lewarne, Tommy Martinez, Allie Meixner, Eliotte Nicole, Tiana Okoye, Amos Oliver III, Tyler Parks, Re’sean Pates, Andrew Pirozzi, Katherine Roarty, Rhon Sanders, Ricky Schroeder, Heather Tepe, Joy Marie Thomas, Mason Trueblood, Karl Skyler Urban, Keenan Washington, and Jason Williams.
Kamilah Marshall, Judine Somerville, and Shayna Steele, who portrayed “The Dynamites” in the original Broadway company reprise their roles. The trio appears in the number “Welcome to the 60s.” Unissa Cruse-Ferguson, a dancer from Baltimore, landed a spot in the broadcast after beating hundreds in an audition at the local Hippodrome Theatre.
“Hairspray Live!” airs December 7th on NBC.