The Grease star will portray a lounge crooner named Jimmy Roselli in the Gus Van Sant-directed Standing Room Only.
Travolta--whose current film, A Civil Action, is the reigning box-office champ--hasn't sung on film since he played the Greased Lightnin'-driving, Olivia Newton-John-chasing Danny Zuko in the 1978 celluloid adaptation of the Broadway classic.
"People might forget that John has a wonderful voice," the actor's manager and Standing Room producer, Jonathan Krane, reminds the Hollywood Reporter.
The Disney project--Travolta and Van Sant's first work together--will profile the life of Roselli, a Hoboken rival of Frank Sinatra, whom many believed never achieved the Chairman's success partly because he couldn't get along with the Mafia.
Shooting for the picture, beginning March 15 in Los Angeles and Atlantic City, kicks off a hectic year for Travolta, who's already got two more films booked for '99.
One of them is the pet project Battlefield Earth--an adaptation of one of Scientology founder/sci-fi novelist L. Ron Hubbard's books. Travolta, the controversial religion's leading figure these days, has been trying to get the film made for some time, and now it appears he's actually going to get started on it in July.
The trades report he's lined up director Roger Christian, the second-unit director for George Lucas' Star Wars: The Phantom Menace, and has the film's $80 million budget financed through Franchise Films. (MGM had dibs on the picture earlier, but reportedly backed out because they thought the budget would exceed $100 million.)
Travolta will produce and costar in the film.
Battlefield Earth, a book written by Hubbard before he founded Scientology, portrays a future where a small population of remaining humans is dominated by an alien race.
After the sci-fi project, Travolta will begin work on The Shipping News, an adaptation of E. Annie Proulx's award-winning novel about a miserable American expatriate who finds love and happiness in Newfoundland.
The actor reportedly had the set moved from the Canadian province to Maine recently. He and his wife, Kelly Preston, have a home in the Cheap Lobster State.