How does one man transform himself in 40 different people in the course of 90 minutes? Just ask Jesse Tyler Ferguson, because for the next 15 weeks at the Lyceum Theatre, he is going to be doing just that in the revival of Fully Committed. Ferguson, who is best known for his role as Mitchell Pritchett on the ABC award-winning comedy Modern Family, returns to Broadway for the first time in ten years playing Sam, a struggling adult actor who is a reservationist for one of New York City’s most popular restaurants. While catering to various demands, bribes, and other schemes to get a table, Sam also has to somehow maintain his sanity.
Ferguson, who was nominated for the 2016 Drama League Distinguished Performance Award, has mastered the manipulation 40 different characters with their various accents and distinct character voices, including the French maitre’d Jean Claude, the East London hostess who sounds somewhat like Adele, and the executive assistant of Gwyneth Paltrow. And, of course, there is the Chef everyone loves to hate who is reminiscent of a grown up Californian frat boy.
The show is directed by Tony Nominee Jason Moore (Avenue Q) and written by Becky Mode. This was Mode’s first play, inspired by her years in the restaurant industry, when she held jobs such as a reservationist, coat check, and waitress. It had a short Off-Broadway run in 1999 at the Vineyard Theatre and went on to be one of the 10 most produced plays in the country. Now that it is back on Broadway, Mode rewrote the script not only to reflect the modern technological age but also what New Yorkers are like today.
In this Drama Doodle, cartoonist Courtney Powitz captures the stress Sam undergoes as he confirms reservations, cleans up messes, receives calls from family members, and tries to find something to sustain him through his long day of work. Fully Committed will play a 15-week limited run, closing on July 24, and Ferguson’s hilarious and tour de force performance is one not to be missed.