The return of the solo Strip show

Lily Tomlin portrays telephone operator Ernestine.

Comic actor Lily Tomlin made her Las Vegas debut at age 70 last November. She must have liked it, because she's back at MGM Grand starting tonight with Not Playing with a Full Deck, a one-person show inhabited by many characters. It's a rare and welcome sign of intelligent life in our odd corner of the universe; what Tomlin serves up is antithetical to the usual lowest-common-denominator diversions on offer here.


Lily Tomlin's Not Playing With a Full Deck
Through March 17 & April 29-May 5, 8 p.m., $58.50-$80.50.
MGM Grand's Hollywood Theatre, 891-7777.

Tomlin's reappearance suggests a strengthening of a commendable trend: filling Strip showrooms with short runs of small-scale but high-quality performances. Likewise, we're glad to hear that Chazz Palminteri is bringing his one-man show A Bronx Tale back to the Palazzo next month. Jason Alexander's The Donny Clay Experience seems to have done well at Planet Hollywood. And yes, there's Garth Brooks, purveying high-end busking at Wynn. This trendlet may be emerging because of the relatively reduced overhead costs involved with solo productions, but whatever the reason, it's to be encouraged.

When I saw Full Deck in November, Tomlin followed her final bows with a relaxed audience Q&A, which turned into a dish session about the TV shows (Desperate Housewives, Damages) Tomlin is working on — this would be our chance to ask her what it's like to go eye to steely eye with Glenn Close.


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