The singer/dancer will take on the role of Tracy Turnblad, who has been played on the big screen by Nikki Blonsky and Ricki Lake. The production will mark the college student's professional acting debut.

"I am so excited and to think I was cramming for my finals two weeks ago and now I get to perform with my idols," she told U.S. breakfast show Today on Tuesday (07Jun16). "I'm just meeting Harvey (Fierstein) for the first time (right now). This is huge."

Maddie will star alongside Harvey, who is playing her character's mother Edna Turnblad, a role he originated on Broadway and won a Tony Award for. He is also writing the special, which is scheduled to air in America on 7 December (16), before hitting TV screens around the world.

Martin Short has also been cast as Wilbur Turnblad, Tracy's father, while dancer/actor Derek Hough will play TV host Corny Collins, and Oscar winner Jennifer Hudson will take on the role of Motormouth Maybelle.

Craig Zadan and Neil Meron, who took charge of the 2007 movie version of Hairspray, are returning as producers of the TV project, following their success with NBC's other live specials of The Sound of Music, Peter Pan and The Wiz.

Hairspray, which first hit the big screen in 1988, centres on an overweight teen who dreams of landing a spot on her favourite TV dance show. It was subsequently developed into a Broadway show in 2002.

Ironically, Blonsky was a complete unknown when she landed the role of Traci Turnblad in the all-star 2007 movie, which also featured John Travolta, Christopher Walken, Zac Efron and Michelle Pfeiffer.