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‘Hairspray Live!’: Jennifer Hudson, Ariana Grande Draw Raves in NBC’s Musical

Variety logo Variety 12/8/2016 Cynthia Littleton

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Jennifer Hudson and Ariana Grande generated major heat on social media for their performances in “Hairspray Live,” NBC’s latest holiday musical production.

The three-hour telecast went off Wednesday night with just a few hitches — some audio glitches, particularly in the outdoor scenes, and some scenes that lacked for lighting. A few stage directions were also audible to viewers. But overall, NBC’s staging of the 1962-set musical inspired by John Waters’ 1988 movie was a crowd-pleaser for tuner lovers.

© Provided by Variety Star Maddie Baillio, a newcomer with limited experience, held her own against stars Harvey Fierstein (who also penned the teleplay), Martin Short, Derek Hough, Kristin Chenoweth, Dove Cameron, Ephraim Sykes, Andrea Martin and Garrett Clayton.

“Hairspray Live” revolves around a portly white teenage girl’s efforts to integrate the performers on “The Corny Collins Show,” a local Baltimore dance show. Hudson played popular DJ Motormouth Maybelle. Her show-stopping number with the civil rights anthem “I Know Where I’ve Been” generated a big response on social media.

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