In 1985, John Waters wrote an article for Baltimore Magazine about the reunion of performers from teen dance show “The Buddy Deane Show," and it sparked an idea. This idea was the first step toward his creation of the 1988 cult classic film “Hairspray," starring Ricki Lake and drag performer Divine.
The "Hairspray" story has been told a number of times since Waters' film, including in the form of a Broadway musical, and the latest iteration is NBC’s live production, “Hairspray Live!,” which is set to air December 7 at 8 p.m. EST.
“Hairspray” centers on a young girl named Tracy Turnblad who dreams of dancing on local television program “The Corny Collins Show.” Turnblad, who lives in a world full of diverse individuals, eventually lands a role on the all-white show. She then uses her overnight celebrity status to help desegregate the program.
Newcomer Maddie Baillio has landed the lead role of Tracy Turnblad, and Harvey Fierstein will reprise the role of Tracy's mother, Edna Turnblad (Fierstein won a Tony for the role in 2003). The two are joined by a star-studded cast that includes Ariana Grande, Billy Eichner, Sean Hayes, Kristin Chenoweth, Jennifer Hudson, Andrea Martin, Derek Hough and Martin Short.
"Hairspray Live!" will be the fourth live musical to air on NBC, which started doing annual productions with 2013's "The Sound of Music Live!." Last year, "The Wiz" was chosen for the December television event. Neil Meron and Craig Zadan, who served as executive producers on the previous live productions are returning to executive produce "Hairspray Live!"
Waters, who wrote and directed the original 1988 film, is in full support of this latest project.
“Each time they change it, they reinvent it, and that’s why I think it keeps working,” he told Baltimore Magazine. “I’m really excited about it."