Marissa Janet Winokur — who played the character of Tracy Turnblad in the original Broadway production of “Hairspray” in 2002 — revealed that she has given “Hairspray Live!” star Maddie Baillio a very important pointer on playing the character.
“My advice to her was, ‘Be yourself. Don't try to be me. Don't try to be Ricki Lake [who starred in the original film], just be yourself,’” Winokur recalled during an interview with Entertainment Tonight on Sunday, Aug. 14. “‘[That's] why they hired you. Just do you. Be the best you can be. Just bring joy and happiness and embrace all your fans.’”
“Tracy Turnblad represents all of America,” added Winokur, who won the Tony Award for Best Leading Actress in a Musical in 2003 for her performance as Tracy. “All the girls. We all love Tracy so much. [I told Baillio], ‘Just love her and embrace her.’”
News that Baillio is set to play Tracy on “Hairspray Live!” broke last June. According to E! News, the up and coming singer-dancer has no professional theater experience and won the role at an open casting call, beating out about 1,000 hopefuls.
“This is just so surreal,” Baillio — who just finished her sophomore year at Marymount Manhattan College in New York — told Access Hollywood earlier this month of landing the role. “I almost didn’t audition because I was so nervous. This is my first professional audition. I woke up at 3 a.m. the night before the audition in New York and I was just like, ‘Okay this is my dream role. I gonna go out there … just audition and see what happens.”
When asked what exactly she did that made her stand out from all the other auditionees, Baillio said: “I was just genuine during the audition. This is my dream role. I just brought myself into Tracy.”
Aside from Baillio, “Hairspray Live!” will also star Harvey Fierstein as Edna Turnblad, Martin Short as Wilbur Turnblad, Jennifer Hudson as Motormouth Maybelle, Kristin Chenoweth as Velma Von Tussle, Dove Cameron as Amber Von Tussle, Ariana Grande as Penny Pingleton, Derek Hough as Corny Collins, Garrett Clayton as Link Larkin, Sean Hayes as Mr. Pinky and Rosie O'Donnell as The Gym Teacher.
“Hairspray Live!” will air on Wednesday, Dec. 7 on NBC.