Long Live Lily Tomlin
Seasoned actress, Lily Tomlin, brings her best to Mercyhurst
TUESDAY, NOV. 7
Longevity: Merriam-Webster defines it as "permanence, durability," and it is not a word that often applies to Hollywood or very many people inside that bubble. Trends hold steady for a few years before everyone loses interest and moves onto a new hot genre, and "it" girls rack up a few feature films and then fade into obscurity. Longevity in show business must be cultivated as vigilantly and as conscientiously as the art of performing itself. Enter Lily Tomlin.
Mary Jean "Lily" Tomlin was born the year — actually the day — World War II officially began, in 1939. Seven decades later, she is as buoyant a presence in Hollywood as ever. Her career began in earnest in the 1960s, running the gamut from sketch comedy TV programs, where she etched out a niche for herself playing a wide variety of characters and showed off her comedic range, to feature films like 1980's 9 to 5, which also starred Dolly Parton and Jane Fonda. Then, of course, there was her Tony Award-winning one-woman Broadway show, The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe, a collaboration with her life-partner and wife, writer Jane Wagner.
Lily Tomlin has racked up the aforementioned Tony, as well as a Grammy and four Emmys, plus an Oscar nomination in 1975. She is currently starring in the hit Netflix program Grace and Frankie, which has earned her critical acclaim. And now, she is coming to Erie to delight the audience at the Mary D'Angelo Performing Arts Center on Mercyhurst University's main campus with her program An Evening of Classic Lily Tomlin.
"I had seen a version of Ms. Tomlin's show as a graduate student at the University of Missouri in Columbia. When I assumed the directorship of the institute, I knew I had to bring her to Mercyhurst," Dr. Brett D. Johnson, director of the Mercyhurst Institute for Arts and Culture said. Though the process took several months, and hinged greatly on Tomlin's busier-than-ever schedule, Johnson was finally able to bring this larger-than-life presence to the Gem City.
He wasn't the only one excited about her performance. Tickets for the event sold out in mere hours, though fans should take heart (and stay alert): additional seats might be sold closer to the performance, including the night of, with those at the front of the cancellation line being given the best odds (the box office opens at 6:30 p.m).
Patrons who secure their tickets are in for a rare treat. Johnson describes the evening as "appearances from some of Tomlin's most beloved characters, including Ernestine, Ms. Beasley and Edith Ann, witty observations about the human condition," and — as if the night couldn't get any more special — "questions from the audience."
If the idea of standing before a huge assembly and hearing your voice fill the auditorium as you speak the lines you've been rehearsing in your mind over and over again strikes you with a particular kind of terror, take comfort knowing that practice makes perfect — and Lily Tomlin is the proof. — Cara Suppa
7:30 p.m. // 501 E 38th St // http://miac.mercyhurst.edu/events/lily-tomlin // $30 adults, $25 seniors, $20 students/youth