As open auditions for the next Tracy Turnblad take place, NBC has already found two key cast members for its next musical, "Hairspray Live!": The network announced on Monday that Jennifer Hudson and Harvey Fierstein have joined the ensemble.
Hudson, who's currently lighting up the Broadway stage in "The Color Purple," is set to play Motormouth Maybelle, the owner of a record store and the host of a dance program on local Baltimore television. She takes over the role from Queen Latifah, who starred in the musical's 2007 big screen adaptation. (Hudson, who already has an Oscar and a Grammy under her belt, could complete the EGOT if she wins a Tony for "Purple" and an Emmy for "Hairspray.")
Fierstein will be playing Edna Turnblad, the mother of protagonist Tracy, returning to the role he originated on Broadway back in 2002 (and for which he won a Tony). John Travolta played Edna in the 2007 movie, and the late Divine played the first Edna back in John Waters's 1988 flick, on which the musical was based.
In addition to starring, Fierstein will also co-write the production, continuing that role from NBC's last live musical offering, 2015's "The Wiz Live!" Another exciting behind-the-scenes bit of news for the production is the addition of camera director Alex Rudzinski to the proceedings. Rudzinski was part of the directing team for Fox's "Grease: Live," which broke out of the stuffy format of NBC's previous musicals, creating an electric theater experience for at-home viewers that featured dazzling camera work, unique staging, and clever set changes. NBC is no doubt hoping Rudzinski can bring some of that magic with him to "Hairspray," where he joins director Kenny Leon (returning from "The Wiz").
"Hairspray Live!" airs on NBC on December 7.
Photo credit: Getty Images for Michael Kors