If John Travolta is going to sing in a movie musical, not a hair will be out of place. Nearly 30 years after he starred in the cinematic celebration of Brylcreem known as Grease, Variety reports that he’s close to signing on to play a starring role in Hairspray, based on the long-running Broadway hit inspired by the lacquered beehive hairdo. In fact, Travolta would be wearing a beehive wig, as well as some colorful dresses, since he’d be playing Edna Turnblad, the housewife role initially played in the stage version by Harvey Fierstein, and created by plus-sized drag performer Divine in the 1988 John Waters movie that inspired the musical.
Hairspray, which will shoot in September, is the second ”movie based on a musical based on a movie” to go before the cameras this year (the other is The Producers). Mark O’Donnell and Thomas Meehan, who wrote the Broadway script for Hairspray, were writing the screenplay as well, but Variety reports that they’ve been replaced by Leslie Dixon. She’s a screenwriter who has ties to Travolta (she cowrote Look Who’s Talking Now, but she also knows drag comedy (she cowrote Mrs. Doubtfire). Let’s hope her Hairspray screenplay more resembles the cross-dressing farce than the talking-dog movie.