‘Hairspray Live!’: What Can We Expect? (PHOTOS)

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Hairspray Live! - Season 2016
Trae Patton/NBC
It's finally time to dance, sing and get your beehive ready for Hairspray Live! We were on set during rehearsals and spent time with cast and crew to find out what we will see in the story about Tracy Turnblad (Maddie Baillio, left in blue dress) and her aspirations that may end up breaking down society barriers.

Executive Producers Neil Meron and Craig Zadan say that the show may be set in the 1960s but its message of standing together instead of apart is very relevant today. "When we produced the movie we looked at it as a period piece," Zadan says. "Doing the show now, we don't look at it as a period piece. We look at something that is unfortunately contemporary." Meron adds that Tracy Turnblad's dreams have always been something audiences gravitate towards. "It also still gives that aspirational message and I think that's inherent throughout Hairspray."
Hairspray Live! - Season 2016
Brian Bowen Smith/NBC
Picked to play Tracy Turnblad in an open call earlier this year in NYC, Maddie Baillio is well aware she's the latest in a long line of Tracys. "Every Tracy is so different," she says between rehearsals. "They all bring their own thing, Ricki [Lake, from the original 1988 film] was kind of the dirtier Tracy. Nikki [Blonsky, from the 2007 film] was very simple. Marissa [Jaret Winokur, from the stage production] was the Broadway Tracy. People here have coined me as the “Pop Tracy” because I like to do like runs and riffs."
Hairspray Live! - Season 2016
Brian Bowen Smith/NBC
Kristin Chenoweth wrapped up her one-woman show on Broadway and jumped right into playing villainous Velma Von Tussle. Talking to her on her first day of rehearsals, she says, "I got to see some of the numbers that the kids do and I flipped out. I was so moved and I'm so happy that they're doing this show. It's like the universe aligned and the stars have come together at the right time for this show. It's going to bring a lot of joy!"
Hairspray Live! - Season 2016
Brian Bowen Smith/NBC
Playing Edna Turnblad has already brought Harvey Fierstein (who also wrote the teleplay for this production) a Tony Award but with the production being partially outdoors on the Universal lot, he admits, "I describe it as theater in the round because the audience is all the way around you but with theater in the round [the audience is] not in your face and those cameras can be right in your face. So, you’re acting for camera but you’re outdoors." He also wanted to differentiate the live production from prior incarnations while still honoring the past. "The movie is the movie. It will always be there. We wanted to get Hairspray Live! more towards what we had created on stage that created that energy and hopefully that’s what we have done but it’s not Broadway. It’s this different hybrid."
Hairspray Live! - Season 2016
Andrew Eccles/NBC
Derek Hough is used to live TV performing after years on Dancing With The Stars but he admits, "I am nervous about this. You start thinking about all the things that can go wrong and you’re like, “Wait, stop. Don’t focus on that.”" One of his biggest surprises in playing dreamy host Corny Collins, however, was looking in the mirror. "I’m clean-shaven [in the show] and when I shaved for the first time in five years, I did not recognize myself. "
Hairspray Live!
Brian Bowen Smith/NBC
Director Kenny Leon loves that the cast brings something for every age of every viewer. "You've got Ariana Grande, who has 40 million Twitter followers and people don’t even know that she started in the theatre," he says. "You’ve got Kristin Chenoweth, Harvey Fierstein...you’ve got an audience that wants to see that person [they connect with] and I’m proud of when they see them in a different way."
Hairspray Live! - Season 2016
Brian Bowen Smith/NBC
As heartthrob Link Larkin, Garrett Clayton loves the message that Hairspray sends. "It’s a show about being inclusive and it’s not about what you look like or what you dress like. It’s about who you are and I think that to me is a big message." And while Link and Tracy are drawn to each other, Clayton says he and Maddie Baillio have grown very close, too. "We text every night! We have gotten time to bond and to get to know each other really well."
Hairspray Live! - Season 2016
Even if you think you know the character of Velma's daughter, Amber, Dove Cameron says she's putting her own spin on it. "I was a huge fan of the movie and the musical and all the different ladies who have played Amber. I think they have done an incredible job. I think I definitely have a goal to make Amber a bit more unhinged, a bit more, in a literal sense, crazy [and] wired wrong."
Hairspray Live! - Season 2016
Trae Patton/NBC
Director Kenny Leon (front center, next to Harvey Fierstein) is excited for the cast they've assembled for Hairspray Live!. "I am lucky to have not only the ensemble, but Jennifer Hudson, Kristin Chenoweth and Harvey Fierstein. There’s not a better human being on the planet than Harvey. He has that maternal instinct that is beautiful." He also marvels at what Maddie Baillio is bringing in the role of Tracy Turnblad. "Maddie is really special. It’s in her eyes. There’s a purity and a sincerity and an authenticity there that you can’t teach. Her singing is effortless."
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Hairspray Live!, Premieres Wednesday, Dec. 7, 8/7c, NBC

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