Hairspray Live!: Is Ariana Grande the Unsung Hero of NBC's Musical?

Did anyone else get major Victorious flashbacks from Ariana Grande during Hairspray Live! on Wednesday?

Before she was topping the charts and getting nominated for Grammys, Grande was killing it on Nickelodeon as one of kid-TV’s most beloved sidekicks (with the lowest IQ), Cat Valentine — and those years of practice paid off in spades during NBC’s live musical.

Whether she was sparring with her mother (Difficult People‘s Andrea Martin!), or following Tracy like a lost (and very confused) puppy, Grande managed to squeeze the most out of every moment — without stealing the spotlight from her co-stars. (Honestly, when Penny revealed that she thought she could talk to Tracy through the Turnblads’ living room television, I could have sworn I’d accidentally switched over to TeenNick.)

As for Grande’s vocals, was there ever a doubt in your mind that she wouldn’t crush every note? She blended seamlessly with Maddie Baillio and Dove Cameron during “Mama, I’m a Big Girl Now,” and we have high hopes for her work in “Without Love” and “You Can’t Stop the Beat.” (We’ll check back in later tonight with an update.)

We’ll have footage of Grande when it becomes available, but in the meantime… Your thoughts on her Penny? The production in general? Who’s your unsung hero of the night? Whatever’s on your mind, drop it in a comment below.

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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28 Comments
  1. Aubrey says:

    I haven’t yet seen Hairspray Live, but I have no doubt in my mind that it’s a great production and Ariana did justice in the role of Penny.

    • Marka says:

      She has some great pop songs…some… but when it comes to acting she’s not great. And she sounds like she’s out of break or she’s got swollen glands or she has food in her mouth that she’s talking around. Not a great actress but I understand they needed to draw in a young crowd.
      Harvey was the hero.

  2. jame says:

    She just did Cat Valentine again. I didn’t like it

  3. Wee says:

    Ok no to this entire article. She tried to pop sing a broadway song even though she’s been on broadway before and she’s playing her character just like Cat Valentine on Victorious and that’s not who she is. And she looked so stiff trying to dance. I tried to give her a chance but she just want right for this role. The unsung hero is Kristin Chenoweth. She has slayed the world tonight.

  4. Kelly says:

    Didn’t care for AG at all in the part I saw (I was only tuned in for second half). Thought she was wooden and uncomfortable looking, especially in the scenes with Seaweed (not convincing that she had the hots for him at all, kept seeming like she was pulling away when he leaned in). And generally I could not hear her vocals too well.

  5. Anna says:

    A big NO to this article. Her singing was fine, but her acting was horrendous. She was outshone by the girl who played Tracy.

  6. GuessWhat says:

    not a fan
    sorry
    she sounds nasally to me every time she “sings”

  7. RF says:

    This entire article is a e.

  8. Ginger says:

    Her voice is not for me, but she would annoy me less if she hired a diction coach, stopped dropping the ends of her words and saying four or five words as one. It was distracting.

  9. Paul says:

    I didn’t expect much from her acting, however I was taken aback by her bad singing

  10. Jj says:

    Unsung? More like outsung by Jennifer Hudson.

  11. Jacqi says:

    I thought she played Penny really well. Penny is probably one of my favorite characters in all of the productions I have seen (movie, traveling show) of Hairspray!

  12. Becca says:

    I thought she was awful. She had some interesting physicality, but her voice was way too sex kitten the whole time and she sounded so out of place in the big numbers. I also could hardly make out the words that she’s saying. There should also be a change in Penny once she meets and falls in love with Seaweed, but she showed no dynamism within the character. I think she was a really poor choice.

  13. ninergrl6 says:

    I thought Ariana was the weakest link in the cast. She struggled to capture Penny’s dorkiness. IMO the most endearing part of the character is her utter awkwardnes, which makes her transformation in You Can’t Stop the Beat a major Moment. I didn’t get that sense from Ariana’s portrayal at all.

  14. Mary says:

    Sorry Andy no she most definitely is not the unsung hero of the show. Personally I am not the fond of her singing but her acting was less than stellar. I enjoyed the show overall and I appreciate when the networks do these but I wish they would hire more Broadway stars to do real justice to them or at least ones who can sing and act.

  15. Rachel says:

    Nope. No way. Have to respectfully disagree. I thought she was awful.

  16. Jared says:

    I’m surprised Ariana Grande didn’t overact or oversing per usual. I Really liked what she did with the part!

  17. Belle says:

    I guess I was watching a different show…because that’s way to much praise for AG; she was just okay. The true hero’s of the show were Kristin, Dove, and Maddie!

  18. ceebee says:

    Sorry – Grande WAS the weakest Link of the Entire Cast!! She was almost Carrie Underwood BAD (at acting!!)

    • Noibha says:

      Underwood wasn’t bad in SOM. Grande was just ‘eh’. When she was killed off of Scream Queens I was happy.

      • Jj says:

        I beg to differ. CU was utterly awful in SOM. Not only was her ‘acting’ wooden and cold, she didn’t have the musical chops to sing the role. She’ s a fine country singer, but she was a terrible choice for Maria.

  19. Liz B. says:

    She was AWFUL. She didn’t enunciate (not that she ever does), and Penny is supposed to be quirky and awkward. WHERE WAS THE QUIRKY? Totally miscast.

  20. melaniedhi says:

    LOVED Ariana in this role. It remind me I’m so bumped Scream Queens killed her off. Need my Chanel no2