Like any busy restaurant, the setting of Fully Committed has many characters and personalities. What distinguishes this fictional eatery, however, is that every one of them is portrayed by Jesse Tyler Ferguson. That’s right – all 40 servers, chefs and patrons are played by one very active and entertaining performer.
Fully Committed, which opens April 25 at the Lyceum Theatre, first introduces the audience to Sam, who might have the most difficult job in all of New York City – answering the reservation line at Manhattan’s most in-demand eatery. As if being responsible for a constant stream of calls wasn’t hard enough, Sam also has to deal with a clientele that consists mainly of prima donnas, hopeless foodies and badly behaved blue bloods.
The show first premiered Off-Broadway in 1999, where it had a successful 18 month run. Becky Mode, the playwright behind this off-beat comedy, did some editing to the script before rehearsals began on the 2016 iteration, however, so that the plot reflects modern technology and “foodie culture.”
In a review of Fully Committed’s initial run, the New York Times said:
“Dining out at the top of the food chain apparently is not about evolved cooking. It’s about plain old threats, bribes, tantrums, ego, humiliation and outright sadism. If it weren’t so sad, it would be funny. Well, actually, it is very funny, at least as it plays out in Fully Committed, Becky Mode’s mocking dismantlement of megalomaniacal chefs, coked-up maitres d’hotel, food-averse V.I.P.’s, strung-out publicity agents and customers with exploding bowels. The play, which opened last night at the Vineyard Theater, does as much to shake the foundations of the temples of haute cuisine as a squadron of flies in the vichyssoise.”
Fully Committed’s cast consists of Jesse Tyler Ferguson, who is perhaps best known for his work on the hit television series Modern Family. Ferguson is no newcomer to the stage, however. He made his Broadway debut in 1998 when he played Chip in On the Town. He also assumed the role of Leaf Coneybear in the original Broadway cast of The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee (2005), which earned him a Drama Desk Outstanding Ensemble Performance Award.
In an interview with Broadway Direct, Ferguson shared his emotions about working in theater again.
“I’ve longed to come back before now, but it never worked out with my [TV] schedule. Obviously I am a huge theater dork. I get super jealous anytime I see friends in a show, so I’m thrilled to be part of the Broadway community again. When I read the play, I fell in love with the challenge of it. It’s rare to find a piece of theater that allows you to explore so many different colors of your ability, from accents and emotions to playing women and men, old and young — it’s a real cross section. The play is hilarious and has a lot of heart.”