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‘Hairspray Live’ Taps Newcomer Maddie Baillio for Tracy Turnblad Role

Producers of NBC’s “Hairspray Live” have tapped a 20-year-old actress and singer from Texas for the lead role as Tracy Turnblad in the 1960s-set musical.

Maddie Baillio of League City, Texas, was unveiled as the “Hairspray Live” star Tuesday morning on NBC’s “Today.” She was chosen from a field of nearly 1,000 actresses who turned out for an open casting call earlier this year. She’ll star opposite Harvey Fierstein, who appeared with Baillio on “Today.” Jennifer Hudson, Martin Short and Derek Hough are also on board.

“Hairspray Live,” the fourth in NBC’s holiday live musical franchise, will air Dec. 7. Craig Zadan and Neil Meron are exec producers. Kenny Leon and Alex Rudzinski are directing.

Baillio at present is a sophomore at Marymount Manhattan College. She recently starred as Dracula in the school’s productions of “Dracula, the Musical” and Winnifred in “Once Upon a Mattress.”  Baillio was named 2014 Great American Songbook Youth Ambassador and last year performed with Michael Feinstein at the Kennedy Center, the Grand 1894 Opera House, Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center and Birdland Jazz Club.

The casting of Baillio follows the decision last year to hold an open casting call for the role of Dorothy in NBC’s “The Wiz Live” production. Ingenue Shanice Williams drew rave reviews for her performance in the tuner, which is expected to return to Broadway in the near future.