Lily Tomlin will be on the roof of the Booth Theatre the morning of Oct. 23, but she's not doing anything desperate — she's just bonding with the theatre's famed lightbulb marquee atop the structure.
Call it searching for the sign of The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe.
Tomlin will mingle with media and ticketbuyers beginning 10 AM Oct. 23, before climbing to the roof of the intimate Broadway house on 45th Street for a photo op. Tickets for the return of her hit solo show, written and directed by Jane Wagner, go on sale by phone and at the box office Oct. 23 in anticipation of a Nov. 11 first preview and an opening of Nov. 16. Tomlin has been trying the show out in Seattle and Princeton this fall. The first 100 ticketbuyers in line Monday morning will get an autographed copy of the newly-released paperback edition of the play, which was a bestseller.
The Booth engagement of The Search for Signs is produced by Tomlin and Wagner Theatricalz and is a strictly limited engagement through Jan. 21, 2001. Phone and in person sales begin Oct. 23. Call (212) 239-200 for information.Tickets range $50-$65. The Booth is at 222 W. 45th St. Between Broadway and Eighth Avenue.
* The Booth, the intimate Broadway house that proved pure gold for Dame Edna last season, will be home to the return engagement of the Tomlin-Wagner piece, in which Tomlin plays a collection of offbeat, heartbreaking, hopeful and humorous characters. Tomlin is reprising her Tony Award-winning 1985 turn.
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) played before Broadway.
Designers on board to help create the skewed worlds of the seriocomic monologue playlets are Klara Zieglerova (scenic), Ken Billington (lighting), G. Thomas Clark and Mark Bennett (sound). *
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.
— By Kenneth Jones