Lily Tomlin's popular turn in Jane Wagner's comedy, The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe, will end its acclaimed stay at the Booth on May 20. Recently, the show posted ads for "last weeks." It will have played 7 previews and 185 regular performances.
Search will be the third Tony-nominated Broadway show to choose to close before the Tony Awards ceremony, after The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Judgment at Nuremberg.The latter two received two nods apiece, while Search was cited for best revival of a play. (The Gathering also posted a closing notice, but received no Tony nominations.)
Popular with fans, the revival of 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 at the intimate Booth Theatre. The Broadway revival run, which opened Nov. 16, 2000, was expected to be limited to Jan. 21, but business merited several extensions to its current "indefinite" run status. Tomlin won a 1985 Tony Award for The Search.
* 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.