‘Hairspray Live’ Casts Ephraim Sykes and Shahadi Wright Joseph

Hairspray stars Ephraim Sykes and Shahadi Wright Joseph
Ephraim Sykes and Shahadi Wright Joseph join ‘Hairspray Live!’ (Photo by Heidi Gutman/NBC)

Hamilton‘s Ephraim Sykes and School of Rock‘s Shahadi Wright Joseph have joined the cast of NBC’s musical event, Hairspray Live!. Sykes and Wright Joseph join a cast that includes Maddie Baillio as Tracy Turnblad, Harvey Fierstein as Edna Turnblad, Jennifer Hudson as Motormouth Maybelle, Ariana Grande as Penny Pingleton, Kristin Chenoweth as Velma Von Tussle, Martin Short as Wilbur Turnblad, Derek Hough as Corny Collins, Dove Cameron as Amber Von Tussle, Garrett Clayton as Link Larkin, Andrea Martin as Prudy Pingleton, and Sean Hayes as Mr. Pinky.

Sykes will play Seaweed and Wright Joseph will take on the role of Little Inez. Seaweed is “a hip and kind-hearted dancer who befriends Tracy in detention and teaches her some new moves. He is also the son of Motormouth Maybelle (Hudson) who falls in love with Tracy’s best friend, Penny (Grande).” Little Inez is Seaweed’s little sister who tries out for The Corny Collins Show, “but is at first turned away because she is African-American.”


Sykes’ credits include Motown the Musical, Newsies, Memphis, and The Little Mermaid. Wright Joseph was the youngest actor to ever star in The Lion King on Broadway as Young Nala.

NBC will air Hairspray Live! on December 7, 2016 at 8pm ET/PT. Kenny Leon and Alex Rudzinski are directing, and Craig Zadan and Neil Meron (The Wiz Live!) are executive producing. Tony Award-winner Jerry Mitchell is on board as choreographer.

The Plot: In Hairspray Live!, teenager Tracy Turnblad’s dream is to dance on The Corny Collins Show, a local TV program. When against all odds Tracy wins a role on the show, she becomes a celebrity overnight and meets a colorful array of characters, including the resident dreamboat, Link; the ambitious mean girl, Amber; an African-American boy she meets in detention, Seaweed; and his mother, Motormouth Maybelle, the owner of a local record store. Tracy’s mother is the indomitable Edna, and she eventually encourages Tracy on her campaign to integrate the all-white Corny Collins Show.