Hairspray Live! - Season 2016When it comes to crafting a live broadcast of one of the most popular musicals of modern times, "Hairspray Live!" is a whole new 'do.

Based on the 1988 cult film starring Ricki Lake and Divine as Tracy and Edna Turnblad from camp auteur John Waters, "Hairspray" was re-shorn in 2002 into a Tony-winning Broadway production headlined by Marissa Jaret Winouker and Harvey Fierstein, and madeover once again in 2007 with a feature film musical adaptation starring Nikki Blonsky and John Travolta. With the ratings success of live musicals airing on network TV, NBC is restyling the production yet again as "Hairspray Live!"

Moviefone sat down with several members of the all-star cast – including Fierstein, who wrote the television adaptation and reprises his acclaimed role of Edna; newcomer Maddie Baillio as Tracy; pop superstar Ariana Grande as Penny Pingleton; Broadway icon Kristin Chenoweth as Velma Von Tussle; comic legend Martin Short as Wilber Turnblad; Disney stars Garrett Clayton and Dove Cameron as Link Larkin and Amber Von Tussle; "Hamilton" hoofer Ephraim Sykes as Seaweed and "Dancing With the Stars" pro Derek Hough as Corny Collins – to get their take of re-inventing a classic they loved through and through, whether they played it on stage or watched from the audience.
Hairspray Live! - Season 1
Maddie Baillio: Funny story. When I was like ten, I was at my friend's house, and I think I was pretty sheltered. I always called my mom and asked her if I could watch a movie if it was not [rated] G. So I called my mom and I asked her if we could watch the original "Hairspray," the John Waters film. And she said, "No no no no no!" Because there was like making out in it, and that was not okay for me to see – I didn't see that until a couple months ago, the original movie. I love it so much.

I saw the 2007 movie with those great people, and I fell in love with the spirit of Tracy. She's like the ultimate underdog, so everyone can relate to her. And she's the ultimate optimist, and I really relate to that. She sees a rat on the street and she thinks it's like, the coolest thing in the world.

Then I watched clips of the Broadway production with Harvey, who's playing my mom, which is so cool. This is like the ultimate master class for me. There are so many amazing people in the show -- I wake up every morning on cloud nine. I can't believe that this is really happening. This is my first audition outside of school, and I finished my sophomore year the day before they told me that I got this part. It's been crazy!
Press Junket For NBC's "Hairspray Live!"
Harvey Fierstein: I wrote "The Wiz" last year, and they called me and said, "Would you be insulted if we asked you to write this but didn't ask you to act in it?" And I said "No!" I am really not that way – I love watching other people do my work! Like "Torch Song" or "La Cage [au Follies]" – I love watching other actors do it. So I'm not territorial in that way.

I knew [Hairspray's Broadway writer] Mark O'Donnell had passed, and so I felt like to bring [composer and lyricists] Marc Shaiman and [co-lyricist] Scott Wittman's vision – because they wrote a lot of the score before the show was even written – to bring their vision to life, to write it, I was thrilled. And then when they came to me and asked me to perform it, there was a whole other energy.

So how do you step back into these shoes? It's a process. I know who Edna is and all that, but there's the Hardy Har Hut, there's the Hefty Hideaway. For these places to become real and I'm living in it, it's really very spacey, I guess is the best way to describe it!

Having performed Edna a thousand times myself, knowing what that did to the audience, I said "I want that experience for this audience at home. How do we do that?" So I stayed as close as I could to the Broadway experience, told the story that way, but hopefully used everybody, or allowed everybody else's storytelling in there.
2016 American Music Awards
Ariana Grande: I've always been very attracted to quirkier, nerdier characters – I don't know where that comes from, but I loved Penny from the moment I saw the original Broadway cast. I was like, "That's my track. When we go to karaoke, I'm singing Penny. When we go to therapy, I'm singing Penny's parts." I've always loved the role.

I think what's so fun about her, other than her quirkiness and her weirdness, is her evolved mind, considering the household she grew up in. Prudy Pingleton, Penny's mother, is a nightmare. So the fact that Penny came out with this beautiful brain, and she's like, I love Tracy, so she's going to be my best friend, and I love Seaweed, so that's going to be my man. You know what I mean? That's so beautiful to me.

When you're a kid, you don't hate people. You are taught to hate people. You're taught to judge people. You're taught to segregate. You're taught to discriminate. It's all taught. So she kind of maintained her childlike love for everybody. She doesn't see it that way.
Press Junket For NBC's "Hairspray Live!"
Kristin Chenoweth: Why do I keep playing these villains, people? The most fun and the biggest challenge is to find out what's their good quality. The words are on the page, right? So I just have to play the role. But I need to find out. If I don't, if Kristin doesn't find something good in that person, I can't play her. And I'd like to think that Miss Baltimore Crabs, Velma, she is living in her past, and really wants it for her daughter, and that's the positive. But to a point. There are stage moms, and then there's Miss Baltimore Crabs.
Hairspray Live! - Season 1
Dove Cameron: I have seen it live in a couple different incarnations – obviously, I saw the recent interpretation of the movie when it came out, and I liked it so much that I saw it three times in theaters and I had the poster up in my wall when I was a kid for like three years. It's so funny because I totally forgot about that, but people keep asking me and it sounds like I am making it up but I was a huge fan of the show!

I don't want to work with anyone else, ever, I want Kristin to be on every one of my projects. She has been my hero since I have been seven years old! So to work with her in "Descendants" three years ago was one of the more monumental moments of my career and my life, but then I performed with her at the Disney Concert Hall when we sang "For Good."

When we found out that we would be involved in this, I called her up and I was like, "Guess what? We are going to see each other all the time!" I love her. She is the most incredible person. I go to her for advice for everything, she is a great all around person. I could go on about her forever but I won't, she is my hero!
Press Junket For NBC's "Hairspray Live!"
Martin Short: I was there opening night when "Hairspray" opened on Broadway, and I have seen the film, but this becomes its own event. This becomes something.

One of the big things for me, beyond working with the fabulous Harvey, is Marc Shaiman's one of my oldest friends. We've done Broadway together, Mark was my music director when I was on "SNL" as a cast member in 1984. And we did "Fame Becomes Me," my Broadway show, together, and scored specials I've done for HBO, so there's a long history and this is their beloved baby so I was thrilled to be asked.
Hairspray Live! - Season 2016
Derek Hough: It's fun, especially Corny Collins because he's so over the top. We'd be in rehearsals and having fun, but the other day we finally put on the costumes and got on the set for the first time and we were like, "This is amazing!" You really feel like you're there. Even like the old cameras, everything – it's amazing. It's very immersive.

We, as a cast, actually watched a documentary about the 60s, about that era to try to grasp hold of it. Our director Kenny Leon was like, "You guys aren't reacting enough to this, this moment – this is not normal." We were like, "Okay, whatever" but back then that was like sacrilegious. The Twist was an abomination! We were watching this show and people were saying, "Disgusting new dance coming out! The Twist! It's disgusting!" And people trying to do it – it was bizarre. Watching that really helped us get into the era. It was wild.
Hairspray Live! - Season 1
Garrett Clayton: I was super stoked to work with Harvey... Because he is Harvey, he is who he is. I also look up to him not just as an actor but as someone that has kind of writes things that he gets to be a part of, and I think that is the dream for anyone that lives in this city. But, as I get older I would love to have a little more control and produce and direct things one day. I want to create and I look to those that have been able to not only be successful actors but successful producers or writers or creators. For me that is a big dream and goal and I have looked up to him for that!
Hairspray Live! - Season 1
Ephraim Sykes: [The timing is] perfect! Everything happens for a reason, there is a reason we are all here. There is a reason that this cast has been assembled. The reason we are going through what we are going through and this message right now has to be told. And I believe the power is always in the hand of the people and through this love and through this understanding and especially through the differences in a show that preaches your individuality and what makes you different is what makes us the same and what we should trust and love.

That is how we are going to find out way through, we are going to find our way through to a place we could have never imagined so that is why we are going through what we are going through!

Grande: It's so beautiful. I'm so excited that we're doing these things now. The live musicals being seen by millions and millions of people, who didn't know that they loved musicals. They didn't know they loved theater. Or like maybe some young boy in a town who likes to dance, and nobody else in his school likes to dance, he's about to see this and be like, "Oh!"

Chenoweth: "That's what I can do." We could have never afforded to come to New York to see any show. Growing up in Broken Arrow, we just wouldn't have had the money. But when I saw Julie Andrews on top of the hill singing "The Hills Are Alive" [in the "The Sound of Music"], which was a movie – thank God they had it, so that's what we're doing here. I'm glad that NBC started this, and is doing it. I'm thrilled. And also, it's making it cool again. I was a music theater geek.

Baillio: Everyone in the cast is brilliant. Martin Short, he makes up lines all the time. So that leaves me hanging, so I don't really know what to say. I'm not that great at improv. But the fact that it is live, and that anything can happen, it's really nerve-wracking. Now I'm scared, but I'm mostly excited.

Hough:Jennifer Hudson, when she sings her song – I mean, people are in tears. We were all crying. Even more so now – listen to it, geez! – you're kind of upset that we're here again and it's so relevant now. The song itself is powerful but when you add her voice to it, it's undeniable. It's interstellar. I can't explain it. It's out of this world. And everyone will hear Maddie, she's incredible, and her voice just exudes energy and light.

Harvey is hilarious. When you work with him you realize what a legend he really is. And Martin Short! It's funny to see these living legends, how they work – they're full out, every single time. It could be 9 a.m. and they're 110 percent every time we run it. It's amazing to see.

Grande: I'm not a watcher, but I will watch this 100 times. I am generally, literally if this were anything else, I probably wouldn't watch it. Once I've put out a music video, I never have to see it again. I don't have to look at anything again. I did it. I don't ever see performances back. I don't want to look at anything.

But this is just such an important thing. This is something I have loved and listened to in the car on the way to school when I was younger. I had a birthday party, we all sang "Hairspray" songs, and I was like, okay, where's my Seaweed? I'm Penny. I think this is different. I'm definitely going to watch this. We're going to watch it together. We'll cry our eyes out. We're going to be like, "Why is it over?" With popcorn.

Chenoweth: You do popcorn, I'll do Xanax.
categories Interviews, Tv News