Maddie Baillio made her Hollywood debut as Tracy Turnblad in NBC's "Hairspray Live" on Wednesday night.

Maddie Baillio made her Hollywood debut as Tracy Turnblad in NBC's "Hairspray Live" on Wednesday night.

Justin Lubin/NBC

Our content partners at Channel 5 were there as students gathered at Clear Falls High School in League City, Texas, on Wednesday night to cheer on a TV show.

Alum Maddie Baillio was making her TV debut to rave reviews for NBC's Hairspray Live

Her first professional audition yielded the lead role in a well-known production with some well-known co-stars, including originator Harvey Fierstein, Martin Short, Kristen Chenowith and Jennifer Hudson, among others. She beat out thousands of hopefuls. And it was live, in front of  a studio audience. Talk about pressure.

And then to be flanked at one point by the original Tracy Turnblad -- and the Tony-winning remix -- when Marissa Jaret Winokur and Rikki Lake made cameo appearances? Whoa.

But all that was probably nothing compared to the selection process she had already gone through to snag the role. The show's producers scoured the country, holding open auditions for the role of of  a Baltimore teen who just wants to dance and ends up knocking down barriers of size and race along the way.

While the students in the Texas town were beyond excited, 600 of them by some accounts, viewers seemed underwhelmed. According to DeadlineHairspray Live pulled in the lowest total viewership since NBC's second time out with the idea (Peter Pan in 2014) at just over 9 million viewers.

But that won't stop the beat. The show is streaming live on Hulu for anyone who missed it. And NBC marches on with its next holiday musical, Bye Bye Birdie starring Jennifer Lopez in December of 2017.

For more TV news, views and reviews, follow @DawnBurkes on Twitter.

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