The first glimpse of John Travolta as Edna Turnblad in the now-filming movie based on the hit Broadway musical Hairspray has been released, and it’s….well, see for yourself.
Yes, that’s Travolta on the left. And he’d probably want you to know he’s wearing a fat suit.
The young woman on the right is Nikki Blonsky, a 17-year-old from Great Neck, Long Island in New York. She won the part of Tracy Turnblad by beating out more than 1,000 other hopefuls in a nationwide search. Blonsky graduated from high school last January and, after getting the Hairspray gig, she quit her job at an ice cream parlor.
Hairspray is filming in Toronto until about December, and the rest of the star-studded cast includes Christopher Walken (as Wilbur Turnblad — yes, Christopher Walken is married to John Travolta in this movie), Michelle Pfeiffer (as Velma Von Tussle), Brittany Snow (as Amber Von Tussle), Queen Latifah (as Motormouth Maybelle), Amanda Bynes (as Penny Pingleton), Allison Janney (as Prudy Pingleton), Zac Effron (as Link Larkin), James Marsden (as Corny Collins) and newcomer Elijah Kelly (as Seaweed).
Composer Marc Shaiman, whom Bay Area audiences saw in Martin Short’s Fame Becomes Me, says the only time this extraordinary cast was all together was for a read-through/sing-through in August:
“The energy and excitement in that room was palpable and contagious. It was outrageously thrilling and exciting to see this incredible and diverse amount of triple-threat talent in one room. In the midst of it all, we witnessed Nikki emerging as Tracy. She didn’t just hold her own with John, Michelle, Christopher and Latifah. Rather, she set the bar for everyone in the cast. It was an incredibly moving experience and something we will never forget.”
Blonsky’s only previous acting experience was at Great Neck Village School, where she played Madame Thenardier in Les Miserables, Mrs. Lovett in Sweeney Todd, Kate in Kiss Me Kate and the title role in Carmen.
Producers say Hairspray, the movie, will be released in the summer of 2007.
And for the record, the Broadway production, which opened Aug. 15, 2002, is still going strong.