WINDY CITY TIMES
||REVIEW The search for signs of the real Lily Tomlin
by Mel Ferrand
This article shared 2455 times since Wed Nov 12, 2008
Seated five rows back, center, at the Rosemont Theatre Nov. 1, I was positioned to be easily captivated by the sorcery of Lily Tomlin. Clad in black, she appeared, whirling from stage left to stage right and greeted by thunderous applause. Once the crowd was quieted, I watch as she masterfully drew us all in. She assumed the character of Ernestine, her famous telephone operator of decades past, and the crowd roared in laugher as she delivered each punch line effortlessly.
For little more than an hour and a half, she held us transfixed through 'An Evening of Classic Lily Tomlin,' presenting characters her dedicated fans have loved for years. As I watched her glide effortlessly through character morphs what I found most striking about them is their completeness and their fluidity. Her character changes, similar to that of a magician's quick hands, trick our minds into not believing our eyes. Even sitting as close as I was, it took constant reminding that in scenes being played out that included as many as four people, there was really only one that stood before me and she wasn't even technically one of the characters. What my eyes saw was a petite white woman clad in black manipulating us like a professional puppeteer encourages her marionettes to dance on a string. Yet even sitting that close, I could not see the seams of the characters she had woven together. Her stitches nearly invisible, her props simply included a couple of chairs and a few sound effects. Some were added for a cheap laugh or, more accurately, for a moment so that those of us in the audience could catch our breath. Not even realizing until then, we had been so transfixed that we had forgotten to breathe. One such moment of 'comic relief' was during a scene where she narrated, 'There is a knock at the door' and we hear a doorbell ring. While we chuckle and catch our breath, she blindsides us with another zinger and we are off and running to catch up with her again.
Essentially using only her body language, posture and facial expressions through each character change, she presented someone other than who our eyes told us we were seeing and then as quickly as one can blink, she was someone else entirely often changing back and forth all in one skit. Even to this day, I am not sure if her breaks in character and subsequent sips of water paired with clever one-liners were actual slips into sightings of the real Lily Tomlin or simply her reminders that there is intelligent life in the universe.
This article shared 2455 times since Wed Nov 12, 2008
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