NBC has cast newcomer Maddie Baillio, a singer and dancer from League City, TX, to play the lead role of Tracy Turnblad in Hairspray Live, which is set to air December 7. Her casting was announced this morning on Today, where she appeared with Harvey Feirstein, who is writing the teleplay and will play Edna Turnblad, a role he created and won a Tony Award for in the original 2002 Broadway version of the musical. Jennifer Hudson, Martin Short and Derek Hough also star.
Baillio won the role after she auditioned at an open casting call with nearly 1,000 others. Now she’s set to play Tracey in the story, set in 1962 Baltimore. The teenager’s dream is to dance on The Corny Collins Show, a local TV program. When, against all odds, Tracy wins a role on the show, she becomes a celebrity overnight and meets a colorful array of characters, including Link, the resident dreamboat; Amber, the ambitious mean girl; Seaweed, an African-American boy she meets in detention; and his mother, Motormouth Maybelle (Hudson), owner of a local record store. Tracy’s mother is the indomitable Edna Turnblad, and she eventually encourages Tracy on her campaign to integrate the all-white Corny Collins Show.
Hairspray Live will be NBC’s fourth annual live musical, following The Sound of Music, Peter Pan and The Wiz. Kenny Leon is stage director, Craig Zadan and Neil Meron serve as executive producers, Jerry Mitchell will serve as choreographer with music and lyrics by Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman.
Here’s a video of Baillio’s road to Hairspray, including the moment live-theater rookie found out she’d landed the part: