Kristin Chenoweth Joins NBC's 'Hairspray Live'

She'll play Velma Von Tussle in the NBC musical.
Vincent Sandoval/FilmMagic
Kristin Chenoweth

Kristin Chenoweth is boarding Hairspray Live!

The Tony and Emmy winner is the latest star to join the NBC musical, adding to the previously announced cast of Harvey Fierstein, Jennifer Hudson, Martin Short, Derek Hough and newcomer Maddie Baillio. The role reunites Chenoweth with executive producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron for the fourth time. They previously collaborated on the TV movie musical Annie with Kathy Bates, The Music Man with Matthew Broderick and the Broadway revival Promises, Promises with Sean Hayes.

Chenoweth will play Velma Von Tussle, the self-promoting and manipulative producer of The Corny Collins Show, who will stop at nothing to make her daughter Amber the star that Velma never was. Her biggest foe is Tracy Turnblad and she’ll do everything in her power to prevent the integration of The Corny Collins Show, which Tracy wants so much.

“We are so excited and fortunate that Kristin — one of the best musical performers in the world — wants to come and play with us on Hairspray,” Robert Greenblatt, chairman of NBC Entertainment, said Tuesday in a statement. “Everything she does is incredible, going back to the iconic Glinda in Wicked, and there’s no one better to play Velma Von Tussle. Each year we find that more and more of the top talent in our business wants to experience the once-in-a-lifetime thrill of these live musicals, and the bigger the roster of stars, the better the event. This one is shaping up to be one of our best!”

Based on the Tony Award-winning Broadway musical, Hairspray Live! takes place in 1962 Baltimore. Teenager Tracy Turnblad’s dream is to dance on The Corny Collins Show, a local TV program, so when she wins a role on the show, she becomes a celebrity overnight and meets a colorful array of characters, including the resident dreamboat, Link; the ambitious mean girl, Amber; an African-American boy, Seaweed, in detention; and Seaweed's mother, Motormouth Maybelle, the 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.

Fierstein also is writing the teleplay for the production. Zadan and Meron have been behind the past three live musical productions on NBC — The Sound of Music, Peter Pan and The Wiz, which produced impressive ratings for the network in December. The duo will be joined by The Wiz Live! director Kenny Leon, live television director Alex Rudzinski and choreographer Jerry Mitchell (Kinky Boots). 

Hairspray Live!, which will be filmed in Los Angeles, will air on Wednesday, Dec. 7, at 8 p.m.

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