Live Production of Hairspray Adds Singer Ariana Grande

On December 7, NBC will show a live broadcast of a play for the third year in a row, this time from Los Angeles. This year’s production will be Hairspray, which was first on Broadway in 2002 before being adapted to film in 2007. The plot involves two girls who are seeking to get on a local dance show that mimics American Bandstand. Besides the dancing aspect that’s part of the production, Hairspray offers a musical look at segregation and its effect on Baltimore during the 1960’s.

On July 7, singer Ariana Grande announced on the social media outlet Twitter that she has been cast as Penny Pingleton, the friend of the play’s main character, Tracy Turnblad. Grande wrote in a series of tweets about the impact that the original 2002 production had on her, with actress Kerry Butler handling that role.

Prior to the start of her career in the music industry, the 23-year-old Grande began in the 2008 Broadway production of the musical, 13. From there, she moved to television, where she appeared on the Nickleodeon cable series, Victorious. That helped propel her to a recording contract, which has resulted in three albums and a pair of Grammy Award nominations.

Grande was the latest notable name to join the production. Harvey Fierstein has already been cast as the mother of Turnblad and is also serving as a writer on the show. In addition, Broadway actress Kristin Chenoweth and Academy Award-winning actress Jennifer Hudson are joined by Martin Short.

Ariana Grande Joins the Cast of NBC’s “Hairspray Live!”

NBC’s next live musical production is on its way with “Hairspray Live!,” a take on the 2002 Broadway show. The network has assembled a stellar cast so far, including Kristin Chenoweth, Martin Short, Harvey Fierstein, Jennifer Hudson and Derek Hough.

The latest addition is pop star Ariana Grande in the role of Penny Pingleton. The singer made the announcement on Twitter with a quote from the character she’ll be playing, telling her followers “I am nowww (sic) a checkerboard chick.”

The musical version of “Hairspray” is based on a 1988 John Waters film. It tells the story of Tracy Turnblad, an overweight teen who dreams of dancing on a local TV dance show. Set in the tumultous world of Baltimore in the 1960s, it’s a story about segregation, integration and the power of music and dance to unite people from all walks of life.

The musical debuted in 2002 and went on to win eight Tony Awards.

NBC has had great success so far with its live musical offerings. They debuted the “Live!” program in 2013 with “The Sound of Music Live!” and followed that up with “Peter Pan Live!” in 2014 and “The Wiz Live!” in 2015. All three programs performed well in the ratings.

“Hairspray Live!” will hit the stage — and the small screen — on December 7 at 8 p.m.