The Corny Collins Dancers In 'Hairspray Live!' Are More Than "The Nicest Kids In Town"
Every teenage girl has a dream, especially if that teenage girl is the main character of a musical. A key plot point in the musical Hairspray is that Tracy Turnblad dreams about being one of "The Nicest Kids In Town" — the bouncy teens who dance on her very favorite TV program, The Corny Collins Show. Hairspray Live! airs on NBC Wednesday night, and I'm ready to soak up the production's technicolor vision of the '60s. Newcomer Maddie Baillio heads up a cast that includes Ariana Grande as Penny, Kristin Chenoweth as Velma Von Tussle, Garrett Clayton as Link, Harvey Fierstein as Edna (returning to the role he played in the original Broadway production), and Derek Hough as Corny. But Hairspray wouldn't be Hairspray without the choregraphed kids Tracey idolizes. Keep reading to meet the actors playing The Corny Collins Show dancers in Hairspray Live!
Going all the way back to the original John Waters movie, Hairspray is a story of acceptance and diversity. The inimitable Tracy's quest to be a famous teen dancer even though she doesn't look like the other Nicest Kids In Town plays out alongside a civil rights narrative. Corny is fine with the idea of integrating the show; Velma and the other suits are resistant. The Corny Collins Show is an afterschool Top 40 jam, but it also represents a place where young people can make change start to happen. Here are the performers who snagged those key Hairspray Live! roles.
Riley Costello As Brad
Costello describes himself on his Instagram as a "Disney fan" and a Gryffindor, so he gets you. The LA-based actor recently performed in a regional production of How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying and is listed among the cast of For Real , an upcoming TV movie about a down-on-his-luck reality star who gives Broadway a try.
Helene Britany As Shelley
Marissa Heart As Tammy
Heart is a dancer, fitness instructor and contortionist. She recently appeared in Lindsey Stirling's video for "Hold My Heart" and played one of the intimidating Cheerios on Glee.
Kelli Erdmann As Lou Ann
Okay, Jane The Virgin watchers: remember that flashback to Xiomara's high school dance team tryouts? Erdmann played one of her classmates. She also appears to have filmed something for the second season of Fuller House, as evidenced by set selfies with John Stamos and Andrea Barber.
Mason Trueblood As Fender
Another Glee alum, Trueblood is credited as "Super Gay Warbler" in eight episodes of the show. Other credits include Switched At Birth, Two Broke Girls, and the upcoming series Girlboss, based on the autobiography by Nasty Gal's Sophia Amoruso.
Tommy Martinez As Corey
Martinez toured with the Tony winning musical Kinky Boots and played one of those ragtag Newsies on Broadway. He also won something called the "Broadway Hunger Games," which is hopefully less violent than the original competition.
Jacque Lewarne As Brenda
You know Lewarne as one of the Top 6 finalists in the 11th season of So You Think You Can Dance. She came to the show as a ballet dancer, and she and her competitor Rudy Abreu charmed viewers by admitting their mutual crush on each other.
Ricky Schroeder As Sketch
Schroader comes to Hairspray Live! after dancing in The Last Five Years movie and going on tour with Kinky Boots. He was crowned Mr. Strip A Thon at this year's Broadway Bares, a provocative charity show.
Sam Faulkner As I.Q.
Katherine Roarty As Kooks
The multi-talented Roarty's resume includes choreography work, modeling for Project Runway All-Stars , and performing on The Best Time Ever With Neil Patrick Harris, with Nicki Minaj at the Victoria's Secret Fashion Show, and in several commercials.
Heather Tepe As Belle
In 2013, Tepe was chosen as BroadwayWorld's "Gypsy Of The Month," an honor bestowed on a show's ensemble member. She was a swing for Broadway's Matilda, meaning she covered several roles should a cast member be unable to perform. Tepe's been on stage since she was a kid; other shows include Gypsy, How The Grinch Stole Christmas, and Billy Elliott.
Karl Skyler Urban As Jon
Hairspray Live! is Urban's first foray into television. His past work happened in regional theaters all over the country and, on one ocsasion, on the sea. Urban was a swing in a Disney Cruise Lines production of Tangled.
Seems like the Nicest Kids In Town are also among the most talented. Watch them shake it on Hairspray Live! tonight.
Image: Trae Patton/NBC