The Scientologist, John Travolta is to play a the role of a woman in the a film version of the hit camp Broadway musical Hairspray.

The Hollywood star has been cast to play the role of Edna Turnblad, the mother of a teenage aspiring dancer, in the silver screen adaptation of the hit musical, itself adapted from the 1988 cult movie of the same name, then staring Ricki Lake.

The part of Edna Turnbald was played by the transvestite performer Divine in the original film version and later by Harvey Fierstein won a Tony Award for the role on Broadway.

The musical tells the story of Tracy Turnblad whose dream is to dance on the Corny Collins Show, a local television programme based on the real-life Buddy Dean Show in Baltimore, Maryland, USA. Once given a chance, despite her small height and large frame, she becomes an overnight celebrity. She then launches a campaign to racially integrate the Corny Collins Show.

The casting of Mr Travolta is controversial, the original film was written by John Walters, the gay film maker. Both on screen and on stage, Hairspray became an camp, gay favourite.

However, the Church of Scientology, of which Mr Travolta is well known for its anti-gay stance. L. Ron Hubbard, the church’s founder wrote that gay people are “perverts”, “quite physically ill,” and “extremely dangerous to society.” However, some Scientologists claim that he later changed his view on the issue of homosexuality.

The makers of the film also announced that Queen Latifah, would play the character Motormouth Maybelle and should be ready for release in Britain during the late part of 2007.

PinkNews.co.uk was unable to reach a spokesperson for the Church of Scientology prior to publication.