Back in early November, production spokesperson Pete Sanders told Playbill On-Line (Nov. 2) that Cornelia, the Broadway-bound drama about Alabama Gov. George Wallace's run for the presidency would not happen "until the Spring, if at all."
A month later, the show's prognosis hasn't changed, mainly because, as Sanders points out (Dec. 8), producers Fran and Weissler are busy focusing on two other projects: the Broadway mounting of Annie Get Your Gun and the Off-Broadway transfer of This Is Our Youth.
In November, Sanders did confirm that if the show happens, it would be with veteran actress Elizabeth Ashley as Ruby (Cornelia Wallace's mother). One of Broadway's most versatile directors - Jerry Zaks would helm the show.
Ashley received a 1962 Tony Award for her performance with Art Carney in Take Her, She's Mine. Other Broadway credits include: The Highest Tree, Barefoot in the Park, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and Agnes of God.
Zaks' resume includes the Nathan Lane revivals of Guys and Dolls and A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, Stephen Sondheim's Assassins, the long-running Smokey Joe's Cafe revue, plus dramas Six Degrees of Separation and the recent Off Broadway The Cripple of Inishmaan. Wallace passed away earlier this year and was known as one of America's most colorful governors, infamous for blocking the doors of the University of Alabama when "coloreds" were entering. He was shot in an assassination attempt during the early 70's while he was running for president.
The Weisslers (Grease!, Chicago) are producing this world-premiere, five-character play by Mark Victor Olsen, which examines Wallace's relationship with his second wife, Cornelia, and the violent act that nearly ended his life. Wallace, a fiery opponent of school integration in the early 1960s, later moderated his views after the assassination attempt left him wheelchair bound.
-- By Sean McGrath and Robert Viagas and David Lefkowitz