Fully Committed

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Photo: Joan Marcus

Cititour.com Review
Jesse Tyler Ferguson makes a winning return to Broadway for the first time since Modern Family thrust him into the sitcom spotlight. But instead of working with a talented bunch of costars, as he does on the long-running ABC series, he’s his own ensemble in the solo comedy Fully Committed.

Becky Mode’s hilarious satirical look at haute cuisine and the wacky and often short-tempered people who populate that world premiered Off Broadway in 1999 and has made the rounds of regional theaters. On Broadway 17 years later, it’s a gentler beast, in part because foodie culture in all its excess is well ensconced in mainstream culture, and because Ferguson takes a more warmhearted approach to the material.

He plays Sam, an actor low on luck and cash who makes ends meet by manning the phones at a trendy New York restaurant, and all the colleagues, reservation seekers and other annoying people who fill his day with nonstop questions and complaints. (The title refers to the phrase Sam uses to tell callers the restaurant is all booked up.) There are no costume changes; Ferguson switches between voices as he conducts both ends of a conversation, embodying characters from a British hostess and a Latino cook to an elderly woman and an egomaniacal chef.

Women’s voices aren’t always as distinct or diverse as men’s, but Ferguson is a gifted physical comedian, and as he bounces around the stage in Avenue Q director Jason Moore’s production, he works a lot of empathy into his performance. More than just a showcase for a versatile actor, Fully Committed also shows how Sam overcomes his “lack of entitlement,” as his agent describes it, learning to use what power he has to his advantage, and to try to get home to his family in Indiana for Christmas.

The play has been sporadically (and unnecessarily) updated with references to Yelp and OpenTable. It still plays like a baby of the last century, though, when more communication took place over the phone than by email or text. The bigger Broadway stage offers room for a visually arresting set design (by Derek McLane) that includes not only the dingy basement where Sam works, but also a collage of chairs swirling to the top of the stage and a floor-to-ceiling backdrop of wine bottles.

At 80 minutes and with a top ticket price of $147, Fully Committed tastes more like an appetizer than an entree. And while it’s not cutting-edge cuisine, Ferguson makes sure it’s delicious.

By Diane Snyder

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Jesse Tyler Ferguson

Open/Close Dates
Opening 4/25/2016
Closing 7/31/2016

Preview Open/ Preview Close Dates
Preview Opening 4/1/2016
Closing Open-ended

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Theatre Info
Lyceum Theatre
149 West 45th Street
New York, NY 10036