The Booth Theatre, the intimate Broadway house that proved pure gold for Dame Edna recently, will be home to the return engagement of Lily Tomlin in Jane Wagner's The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe, beginning previews Nov. 11 and opening Nov. 16.
Comic actress Tomlin will seek answers to human existence in Wagner's tart, humane, seriocomic monologues, reprising her Tony Award-winning 1985 turn for 10 weeks.
Tomlin had something of a tryout for the upcoming run in 1999, when she toured a trim concert version of the play to 30 cities between September and December. Dates at Seattle Repertory Theatre (Sept. 6-Oct. 7) and McCarter Theatre in Princeton, NJ (Oct. 17-Nov. 5) will precede Broadway.
Designers on board to help create the skewed worlds of the monologue playlets are Klara Zieglerova (scenic), Ken Billington (lighting), G. Thomas Clark and Mark Bennett (sound). The Search for Signs is produced by Tomlin and Wagner Theatricalz.
Tickets go on sale by phone Oct. 23 and range $50-$65. The Booth is at 222 W. 45th St. For information, call (212) 239 6200. *
Tomlin, known for her quirky characters on TV's "Laugh-In" and "Murphy Brown," and in films such as "Nashville" and "9 to 5," won a Best Actress Tony Award in 1985-86 for playing Wagner's varied series of scenes and characters. The script is loaded with incisive seriocomic observations about post 1960s cultural attitudes, expectations and consequences. Wagner, her longtime collaborator, failed to get a nomination.
The show set out on a successful national tour in 1990-91. In the original, Tomlin played a punker teen, a wise bag lady, hookers, a fitness freak, a husband, a lesbian editor and more.
In 1999, writer-director Wagner approached the show with a fresh eye in anticipation of the new century, according to a tour spokesperson.
One of the more celebrated lines of the play had a character named Lynn, struggling to be a superwoman, observing, "If I had known what it would be like to have it all, I might have settled for less."
The 1999 tour was considered an exploratory reapproach to see how the material played more than a decade after it premiered. The tour was a Delsener Slater production, produced by Tomlin.
Tomlin is a Detroit native who rose to fame on late 1960s TV and graduated to films such as "All of Me," "Incredible Shrinking Woman," "Moment by Moment" (directed by Wagner), "Nashville" and, recently, "Tea With Mussolini."
Her previous Broadway show, Appearing Nitely, in 1977, earned her a Special Tony Award.