Following in the footsteps of The Sound Of Music, Peter Pan, and The Wiz, Hairspray will be the latest musical to get the “Live!” branding when NBC stages a live televised production on December 7. And according to Variety, Kristin Chenoweth will help bring the 1960s-set show to life. She’ll play Velma Von Tussle, a stage mom who runs The Corny Collins dance show with an iron fist and serves as the musical’s perfectly coiffed villain. Michelle Pfeiffer played the role in the 2007 film adaptation of the Broadway musical; Debbie Harry, meanwhile, originated the character in the original 1988 John Waters movie.
Chenoweth is perhaps best known to mass audiences for her ability to sing high notes on command on talk shows, but she’s also had an illustrious musical theater career over the years. She won a Tony in 1999 for You’re A Good Man Charlie Brown and originated the role of Glinda in Wicked a few years later. She joins a whole bunch of stage and screen crossover stars: Harvey Fierstein will return to his Tony winning-role as Edna Turnblad, mother of the show’s plump teenage heroine Tracy (newcomer Maddie Baillio). Meanwhile, Martin Short will play Edna’s husband Wilbur, Jennifer Hudson is signed on as Motormouth Maybelle, and Dancing With The Stars’ Derek Hough will play TV host Corny Collins.
Most of the show’s teenage roles have yet to be cast, including whoever will play Chenoweth’s mean girl daughter Amber. It’s a toss-up as to whether producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron will try to find a petite Chenoweth-sized actress for the role, or go for someone really tall to maximize the potential for height difference jokes.