What Was Marissa Jaret Winokur’s Advice to Hairspray Live!’s Tracy Turnblad?
By Michael Gioia
12 Nov 2016
The original Tracy sits down with Maddie Baillio to talk Hairspray—on Matthew Morrison’s couch!
On day one of rehearsals for NBC’s Hairspray Live!, which hits television screens December 7, newcomer Maddie Baillio was the first to show up.
“I sat down, and I just wanted to watch everyone walk through the door one by one,” she says, “and one of the first people to walk through was Ariana Grande, who is one of my favorite singers. She walked in and said, ‘Maddie, I’ve been waiting so long to meet you! I’m so excited to meet you!’ [I thought], ‘You’re excited to meet me, this is crazy!’ And she handed me her phone and was like, ‘Follow yourself on my Instagram,’ and she’s not following that many people, so I’m very fortunate.”
Baillio and Grande have been cast as best friends Tracy Turnblad and Penny Lou Pingleton in the television musical event of the season. Grande is a two-time Grammy Award nominee and a Broadway performer, having made her debut on the Great White Way as a teenager in Jason Robert Brown’s 13. But Baillio is the new kid on the block; she was discovered from an open call for the coveted lead role.
Before landing the role, she had just completed her second year at Marymount Manhattan College in New York City. Now, she’s leading a star-studded cast that not only includes Grande, but Tony winners such as Kristin Chenoweth, Andrea Martin, and Harvey Fierstein, Disney stars such as Garrett Clayton and Dove Cameron, and Oscar winner Jennifer Hudson.
All have been giving her a few words of wisdom before she takes the sound stage at the Universal Studio lot in California this December.
“Kristin Chenoweth is the sweetest person in the entire world,” says Baillio. “She’s honestly been like a second mother to me.” Chenoweth has a vested interest in her education—urging Baillio to go back to Marymount. “She said, ‘I think you would regret it if you didn’t. You’re going to be a star one day, Maddie. Just finish school.’ And Harvey is emailing me like every day and making sure that my journey is going smoothly.
Maddie Baillio as Tracy Tunrblad, Harvey Fierstein as Edna Turnblad
(Photo by: Colleen Hayes/NBC)
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