A line of around 200 colorful "Hairspray" hopefuls wrapped around the Hippodrome Theatre on Thursday morning, each waiting for a chance to be a part of a live televised production of the Broadway musical based on the 1988 John Waters film.
NBC was hosting auditions for "Hairspray Live," offering one Baltimore-area resident a trip to Los Angeles and a dancing role in the show about a chubby Baltimore girl with hep moves — and a TV dance show in need of desegregation. Baltimore is the only city where the auditions will be held, according to an NBC spokeswoman, which gives local talent the opportunity to be a part of a production that is closely identified with the city.
The broadcast will air Dec. 7, with a cast including Jennifer Hudson, Harvey Fierstein, Kristin Chenoweth, Martin Short, Sean Hayes, Rosie O'Donnell, Ariana Grande and Andrea Martin.
Would-be stars were queuing up for the auditions by 6 a.m.
Stephanie Clark, 22, of Glenwood was first. Dressed in a lime-green tank top with a matching sash in her hair, the dancer, who recently graduated from Indiana University of Pennsylvania, said she had practiced nonstop for three days.
"Everyone has an equal shot," she said shortly after participating in a flash mob performance of the show's upbeat finale, "You Can't Stop the Beat," organized by NBC executive Dean McFlicker.
Baltimore School for the Arts alumnus Richard Hughes, 21, and University of Maryland, Baltimore County dance student Tsola Akuya, 19, could be found in the flash mob, giving the choreography their all.
"I'm here to kill it, to win it," Hughes said. "I'm here to go to L.A."
Around 11:30 a.m., hopefuls were led into the theater for warmups before they performed on stage for the judges, which included McFlicker, associate choreographer Brooke Engen and actress Maddie Baillio, who will play the lead character, Tracy Turnblad.
Just months ago, Baillio, a 20-year-old from League City, Texas, and a student at Marymount Manhattan College, was in their shoes.
After seeing a Facebook ad about a casting call for the role of Tracy Turnblad earlier this year, Baillio decided to try out and beat out over 1,000 other women for the role. It is her first professional role.
"It's always been my dream to be on Broadway. Now this is Broadway on television. ... So many kids get to see it. I wish they had this around when I was a kid in Texas," said Baillio, who met with Waters and NBC executives Wednesday.
Chase Bristow, 26, of Linthicum, whose favorite dance is the Twist, said that he loves "Hairspray" tunes so much you can find him dancing to them while walking around his neighborhood. But the audition meant more to him than just dancing.
"I'm doing this for autistic people like myself," said Bristow, who has Asperger's syndrome.
"I've worked through my autism and everything to show all these people, all the autistic people watching, that they can do anything they set their mind to, as long as they have passion and that drive about them," he said.
The winner will be announced on WBAL-TV the morning of Sept. 20, according to an NBC spokeswoman.