Broadway’s Ephraim Sykes (Hamilton) and Shahadi Wright Joseph (School of Rock) have rounded out the cast of Hairspray Live!, NBC’s live musical produced by Universal Television that will air December 7 from Los Angeles.
They will play Seaweed J. Stubbs and Little Inez, respectively, joining previously cast Harvey Fierstein, Jennifer Hudson, Ariana Grande, Kristin Chenoweth, Martin Short, Derek Hough, Dove Cameron, Garrett Clayton, newcomer Maddie Baillio, and special guest stars Sean Hayes, Andrea Martin, and Rosie O’Donnell.
Seaweed J. Stubbs is a hip and kind-hearted dancer who befriends Tracy (Baillio) in detention and teaches her some new moves. He is also the son of Motormouth Maybelle (Hudson) who falls in love with Tracy’s best friend, Penny (Grande).
Little Inez is Seaweed’s younger sister, who tries to audition for The Corny Collins Show, but is at first turned away because she is African-American.
Based on the Tony-winning Broadway musical, Hairspray Live! takes place in 1962 Baltimore, where teenager Tracy Turnblad’s (Baillio) 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.
Sykes has been a member of the Hamilton company since the musical sensation, which recently won 11 Tony Awards, opened on Broadway in August 2015. Prior to his role in Hamilton, Sykes appeared in four other Broadway musicals — Motown the Musical, Newsies, Memphis and The Little Mermaid. His television credits include Vinyl, Smash and Emmy-winning 30 Rock, and he can be seen in the upcoming Woody Allen series Crisis in Six Scenes on Amazon.
Wright Joseph made history at age 9 as the youngest actor to play Young Nala in Disney’s Broadway production of The Lion King. She began her career as a Fisher Price print model and started dance training with Purelements: An Evolution in Dance at age 2. In fall 2015 Wright Joseph joined the original Broadway cast of School of Rock, playing the role of Madison and understudied the role of Tomika.