Before Hairspray made its way to Broadway, where it would go on to win the Tony Award for best musical, the show’s leading man left the production.

“We went out of town to start doing the show and our Link Larkin got a movie and left us cold,” says Marissa Jaret Winokur, who is featured in the current issue of PEOPLE.

Winokur, who starred as plus-size optimist Tracy Turnblad in the musical based on the 1988 John Waters film of the same name, says she decided to get involved in the casting process.

“Matt Morrison was the hot chorus boy and I kept saying to them, ‘Matt Morrison is really hot. He should do it’ – only because I thought he was hot,” she says of the Gleestar. “I didn’t know if he was talented or anything. He was just that cute boy with the big curly hair. I said, ‘That’s my Link.’ But the joke is on us. He blew up and is everywhere.”

Of course, being costars meant making out in eight shows a week.

“My boyfriend at the time, who is now my husband, would come visit and I would be, like, ‘I like the way Matt kisses better,’ ” jokes Winokur, who wed TV producer Judah Miller in 2006.

Now, Winokur will cameo in NBC’s TV event based on the Broadway musical inspired by Waters’ 1988 film, Hairspray Live!

“I said, ‘Even if there’s something fun for us to do backstage, I just want to be a part of it,’ ” she says.

Hairspray Live! airs Dec. 7 on NBC.

People

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