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Jennifer Hudson Wows in Hairspray Live!

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Brian Bowen Smith/NBCEven an all-star cast couldn’t outshine Oscar-winner Jennifer Hudson in Hairspray Live! The three-hour musical adaptation of the 2002 Broadway musical Hairspray, about a girl who finds overnight success in 1962 Baltimore, aired Wednesday night on NBC.

Hudson, as Motormouth Maybelle, belted out two of the production’s showstopping numbers, “Big, Blond and Beautiful” and “I Know Where I’ve Been.” She also teamed up with Ariana Grande for a duet on “Come So Far (Got So Far to Go),” as the cast took their bows.

Overall, the show went off without a hitch, save for some microphone and lighting glitches. Ariana Grande also tripped during the number “I Can Hear the Bells” — although if you blinked, you might have missed it.

The production also starred Dancing with the Stars pro Derek Hough, Broadway vets Harvey Fierstein, Andrea Martin and Kristin Chenoweth, and also Martin Short, Sean Hayes, Billy on the Street’s Billy Eichner, and newcomer Maddie Baillio, as Tracy Turnblad. It also utilized the live audience as the audience for the play’s fictional Corny Collins Show. 

There were some surprise cameos as well, from former Tracy Turnblads Rikki Lake and Marissa Winokur, who played Mr. Pinky’s assistants, as well as the original “Dynamites.”

As with previous live TV adaptations, fans expecting a live version of either the 1988 John Waters film or the 2007 reboot were probably a little lost, since this one stayed truer to the Broadway play. The show also didn’t shy away from drawing parallels between the 60s civil rights movement and current tensions.

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