Lily Tomlin took a five-day break from Broadway's The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe, March 12-16, to film a movie, but she returns to her open-ended popular solo turn at the matinee March 17.
Beginning March 18, Tomlin adds Sunday evening performances, through April 8, and there is no end in sight for the run, at the Booth Theatre. Wednesday matinees have been added for April 11 and 18 only. Popular with fans, the revival of Jane Wagner's seriocomic traipse through modern life is a hit in the literal showbiz sense: It recouped its $1 million investment 10 weeks into the run. The run was expected to be limited, but business merited several extensions to its current "indefinite" run status.
Tomlin jetted out of New York after her March 11 Search performance for filming on a picture called "Orange County," in which she plays a high school guidance counselor. Tomlin won a 1985 Tony Award for The Search.
The Search... opened Nov. 16, 2000. Originally, the closing was announced for Jan. 21. Tomlin won a Tony Award for creating a world of characters in Jane Wagner's The Search... in 1985. The doors to the Booth Theatre, the intimate house that proved pure gold for Dame Edna last season, opened for previews Nov. 11, 2000. The play, in which Tomlin essays a collection of offbeat, heartbreaking, hopeful and humorous characters, is directed by Wagner, Tomlin's longtime personal and creative partner. Designers on board to help create the skewed worlds of the seriocomic monologue-playlets are Klara Zieglerova (scenic), Ken Billington (lighting), Tom Clark and Mark Bennett (sound). Tomlin had something of a tryout for the returning Broadway run: She toured a trim concert version of the play to 30 cities between September and December 1999. Fall 2000 dates at Seattle Repertory Theatre (Sept. 6-Oct. 7) and McCarter Theatre in Princeton, NJ (Oct. 17-Nov. 5) played before Broadway.
The Search for Signs is produced by Tomlin and Wagner Theatricalz. Tickets range $50-$65. The Booth is at 222 W. 45th St. between Broadway and Eighth Avenue. Call (212) 239-6200 for information.
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 script of the play, however, became a best-seller and has been re-released by Harper Collins to coincide with the Broadway run.
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.
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, written and directed by Wagner in 1977, earned her a Special Tony Award.
Wagner won the Drama Desk Award for "Unique Theatrical Experience" for The Search and a rare Special Award by the New York Drama Critics Circle. The hardcover edition of the play was a New York Times best seller, and is now in paperback. He teleplay for the TV film, "J.T.," brought her to the attention of Tomlin. Wagner co-wrote and co-produced three comedy albums with Tomlin.
She is now developing a TV pilot for Tomlin.