Travolta’s drag

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.

11 thoughts on “Travolta’s drag

  1. Travolta in drag…to think that is the same man I drooled and giggled over with chills a’multiplyin. *sigh* Even without the leather, I’d pay to see his sweet face and hear him sing in all his chubby, bosomy glory.

  2. I can’t wait for the movie. I always thought Travolta had some untapped resources in there. This movie should give him the opportunity either branch out or return to the Kotter humor, either of which will be good. Is it a musical? Will he sing?

  3. Thanks Chad for your blog – Its a hoot!
    As far as John T. as Edna…Let’s just say I’m oddly attracted 🙂
    But that’a something I will talk to my therapist about – Ray

  4. Mike — in answer to your question, YES! This is the movie of the Broadway musical, so absolutely Travolta will sing — his first on-screen singing since “Grease” (and for those of us who adore the mediocrity that is “Grease 2,” how exciting is it that a star from the original “Grease” is in the same movie with Michelle Pfeiffer, the star of “Grease 2”?). Travolta’s big number is “Welcome to the ’60s” and “(You’re) Timeless to Me” (which will be a duet with Walken). No word yet on wheter composers Marc Shaiman and Scott Witman are writing any new songs (they probably will so that something will be eligible for a best song Oscar).

  5. Hmm, Travolta’s looking a little like Lorraine Bracco don’t you think? I hope that this photo op is pre-Tracy’s stardom and pre-Mr. Pinky’s House for Plus-size Girls makeover?

    PS. Love the blog!

  6. OMG. Travolta in drag. I had almost forgotten how much I love this man. I love him even more for having the huevos to try to fill Divine’s pumps. He looks like he’s loving that drag though. I wonder if Hugh Jackman is pissed at his agent now for not sending him up for it. You know she would have loved that role.

  7. I am so pumped to see this movie!! Almost as anxious as I was for “Rent!” The casting is phenomenal, IMHO. Travolta looks fabulous as a woman and the Tracy casting appears spot on. I’m so glad it was from a talent search for an unknown. I just don’t know how anyone can fill Marissa Jo Winokur’s shoes. I’m there on Opening Day!!!

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