Hairspray is the latest musical to stream for free on YouTube

27 May 2020, 12:42 | Updated: 27 May 2020, 14:02

Ariana Grande plays Penny in Hairspray Live!

By Helena Asprou

Liven up your Friday evening with a free YouTube stream of toe-tapping musical ‘Hairspray Live!’, starring Maddie Baillio, Jennifer Hudson, Kristin Chenoweth and Ariana Grande.

Hairspray Live! was first aired on NBC in 2016 – and for this weekend only, British audiences will be able to livestream it for free on YouTube, helping to lift people’s spirits during the coronavirus pandemic.

Set in 1962 Baltimore, the infectiously catchy musical (watch trailer above) tells the story of talented teenager Tracy Turnblad, who becomes a local celebrity after winning a role on popular TV dance contest, The Corny Collins Show, and goes on to meet a colourful array of characters.

It became an instant hit with American audiences, with over nine million viewers and seven Emmy Award nominations, of which it won three.

The feel-good production is based on the 1988 film of the same name and originally opened in 2002 on Broadway (winning eight Tony Awards), before coming to London’s West End in 2008 and taking home four Oliviers.

Read more: Hamilton to Oklahoma! – how to watch Broadway and West End shows from home >

The cast of Hairspray Live!
The cast of Hairspray Live! Picture: Getty

How can I watch Hairspray Live! for free?

The livestream for Hairspray Live! will be available on Friday 29 May from 7pm BST.

You can watch the production via Andrew Lloyd Webber’s YouTube channel, The Shows Must Go On, but you’ll only have 48 hours to view the show.

Although the stream is free, audiences are encouraged to donate money if they can to The Actors Fund, which supports performers who may be struggling during the coronavirus pandemic with emergency financial assistance, affordable housing, healthcare, and more.

More than half a million dollars have been raised for the fund since the YouTube channel started.

Hairspray Live! ( with Ariana Grande ) You can't stop the beat!

Hairspray Live! – who is in the cast?

Friday’s livestream stars American actress Maddie Baillio, best known for her appearance in the 2018 comedy film, Dumplin’, in the lead role of Tracy Turnblad.

She is joined by Academy Award-winning singer and actress, Jennifer Hudson (as Maybelle “Motormouth” Stubbs), who rose to fame as a finalist on the third season of TV talent contest, American Idol, and made her Broadway debut in the role of Shug Avery in The Color Purple.

Meanwhile, pop icon Ariana Grande, named by Time as one of the most influential people in the world in 2019, plays pigtail-wearing Penny Pingleton.

Robert Greenblatt, NBC chairman, told Hollywood Reporter: “We’re absolutely thrilled to round out our all-star Hairspray Live! cast with Ariana Grande, one of the biggest recording artists in the world... She’s also a Broadway baby at heart, having debuted on Broadway when she was 15.”

The show’s stellar cast also includes playwright and voice actor, Harvey Fierstein, as Edna Turnblad, Tony-winning actress and singer, Kristin Chenoweth (Velma Von Tussle), Disney actress Dove Cameron (Amber Von Tussle) and comedian Martin Short (Wilbur Turnblad).

Read more: LA Phil to Met Opera: the best free classical music streams this week >

Andrew Lloyd Webber introduces The Show Must Go On

Hairspray Live! – what are the songs?

Tomorrow’s production treats us to a whole host of catchy melodies, with music penned by TV, film and musical theatre composer, Marc Shaiman (also known for his work on Mary Poppins Returns), and lyrics from Scott Wittman.

Popular songs include ‘You Can’t Stop the Beat’, ‘Big, Blonde and Beautiful’ and ‘Good Morning Baltimore’.

The livestream follows last week’s virtual screening of The Sound of Music Live!, starring Carrie Underwood in the lead role of Maria Rainer.

Watch Hairspray Live! on Friday 29 May, from 7pm BST, on YouTube.