Monday, May 9, 2016

Broadway Theater Review: Fully Committed with Jesse Tyler Ferguson

Enjoy a Hot Manhattan Restaurant from Behind the Scenes
By Lauren Yarger
Looking for a fun way to spend an evening out this summer? You might think about trying Manhattan’s world renowned, red hot restaurant where anyone who is anyone wants a table.
Or you could have a lot more fun being Fully Committed and enjoying the action at such a restaurant from its basement with reservation specialist Sam (“Modern Family’s” Jesse Tyler Ferguson).

In the Broadway revival of Becky Mode’s hysterical one- man show, Ferguson portrays some 40 characters interacting with Sam on the busy restaurant reservations line located in the dilapidated basement of the restaurant (and designed in shabby detail by Derek McLane).

Among those competing for Sam’s attention are a hooky-playing coworker,  the chef, the maître d, the hostess, the reservations specialist and numerous customers vying to be seen at the happening eatery where seats are scarce as people vie to sample the chef's trademarked “molecular gastronomy.” In fact, the restaurant is “fully committed” – a swanky way of saying sold out – for months in advance.

That doesn’t stop them from trying, though. I mean who wouldn’t want to dine out on dishes like “crispy deer lichen atop a slowly deflating scent-filled pillow, dusted with edible dirt” or “A nitro-frozen shaved foie gras enshrouded in a liquid chicken-filled orb?”

Among the characters calling are a mobster, uppity socialites who feel entitled, Gwyneth Paltrow’s personal assistant who keeps phoning to make sure Sam notes all of her ridiculous requirements for being seen dining at the restaurant, a Southern belle who drips charm while threatening a bad Yelp review if she doesn't get a reservation time and even Sam’s lonely dad, who calls on his son’s cell phone occasionally to check in.

The calls, messages and catastrophes come fast and furious leaving a stranded Sam without time for a bathroom break, or ironically, a chance to eat any food– until someone does the unthinkable in the toilet and Sam is tapped to go clean it up.

It’s a very funny 90 minutes without intermission with a good combination of script and a performer who is spot on with the fast pace and all of the various voices and personalities for the plethora of characters.

The play was a big hit back in 1999 featuring actor Mark Setlock and playwright Mode has updated it to reflect today’s foodie and restaurant culture.

Fully Committed and Jesse Tyler Ferguson reserve the right to make you laugh through July 31 at the Lyceum Theatre, 149 West 45thSt., NYC. Performances are Monday and Tuesday at 7 pm; Wednesday- Saturday at 8 pm; Saturday at 2 pm; Sunday at 3 pm. Tickets are $45-$147: fullycommittedbroadway.com; (212) 239-6200. 

Additional credits:
Costume Design by Sarah Laux, Lighting Design by Ben Stanton , Sound Design by Darron L West, Original Music by Jeff Richmond.

FAMILY-FRIENDLY FACTORS:
-- Language

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Our reviews are professional reviews written without a religious bias. At the end of them, you can find a listing of language, content or theological issues that Christians might want to know about when deciding which shows to see.

** Mature indicates that the show has posted an advisory because of content. Usually this means I would recommend no one under the age of 16 attend.

Theater Critic Lauren Yarger

Theater Critic Lauren Yarger

My Bio

Lauren Yarger has written, directed and produced numerous shows and special events for both secular and Christian audiences. She co-wrote a Christian musical version of “A Christmas Carol” which played to sold-out audiences of over 3,000 in Vermont and was awarded the 2000 Vermont Bessie (theater and film awards) for “People’s Choice for Theatre.” She also has written two other dinner theaters, sketches for church services and devotions for Christian artists.

Yarger trained for three years in the Broadway League’s Producer Development Program, completed the Commercial Theater Institute's Producing Three-Day Training and produced a one-woman musical about Mary Magdalene that toured nationally and closed with an off-Broadway run.

She was a Fellow at the National Critics Institute at the O'Neill Theater Center in Waterford, CT. She writes reviews of Broadway and off-Broadway theater (the only ones you can find in the US with an added Christian perspective) at http://reflectionsinthelight.blogspot.com/.

She is editor of The Connecticut Arts Connection (http://ctarts.blogspot.com), an award-winning website featuring theater and arts news for the state. She is a contributing editor for BroadwayWorld.com and is a theater reviewer for the Manchester Journal-Inquirer. She previously served as Connecticut theater editor for CurtainUp.com and as Connecticut and New York reviewer for American Theater Web.

Yarger is a book reviewer for Publishers Weekly and freelances for other sites. She is a member of the National Book Critics Circle.

She is a freelance writer and playwright and member of The Drama Desk, The Outer Critics Circle, The American Theater Critics Association and The League of Professional Theatre Women. She served as a judge for the SDX Awards presented by the Society of Professional Journalists. She also is a member of the Connecticut Critics Circle and the CT Press Club.

A former newspaper editor and graduate of the University of Missouri’s School of Journalism, Yarger also worked in arts management for the Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts, the Hartford Symphony Orchestra and served for nine years as the Executive Director of Masterwork Productions, Inc. She lives with her husband in West Granby, CT. They have two adult children.

Copyright

All material is copyright 2008- 2017 by Lauren Yarger. Reviews and articles may not be reprinted without permission. Contact reflectionsinthelight@gmail.com

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Key to Content Notes:

God's name taken in vain -- means God or Jesus is used in dialogue without speaking directly to or about them.

Language -- means some curse words are used. "Minor" usually means the words are not too strong or that it only occurs once or twice throughout the show.

Strong Language -- means some of the more heavy duty curse words are used.

Nudity -- means a man or woman's backside, a man's lower front or a woman's front are revealed.

Scantily clad -- means actors' private areas are technically covered, but I can see a lot of them.

Sexual Language -- means the dialogue contains sexually explicit language but there's no action.

Sexual Activity -- means a man and woman are performing sexual acts.

Adultery -- Means a married man or woman is involved sexually with someone besides their spouse. If this is depicted with sexual acts on stage, the list would include "sexual activity" as well.

Sex Outside of Marriage -- means a man and woman are involved sexually without being married. If this is depicted sexually on stage, the list would include "sexual activity" as well.

Homosexuality -- means this is in the show, but not physically depicted.

Homosexual activity -- means two persons of the same sex are embracing/kissing. If they do more than that, the list would include "sexual activity" as well.

Cross Dresser -- Means someone is dressing as the opposite sex. If they do more than that on stage the listing would include the corresponding "sexual activity" and/or "homosexual activity" as well.

Cross Gender -- A man is playing a female part or a woman is playing a man's part.

Suggestive Dancing -- means dancing contains sexually suggestive moves.

Derogatory (category added Fall 2012) Language or circumstances where women are referred to or treated in a negative and demeaning manner.

Other content matters such as torture, suicide or rape will be noted, with details revealed only as necessary in the review itself.

The term "throughout" added to any of the above means it happens many times throughout the show.

Reviewing Policy

I receive free seats to Broadway and Off-Broadway shows made available to all voting members of the Outer Critics Circle and The Drama Desk, the two professional critics organizations with journalists covering NY theater. Journalistically, I provide an unbiased review and am under no obligation to make positive statements. Sometimes shows do not make tickets available to reviewers. If these are shows my readers want to know about (I review all Broadway shows and pertinent Off-Broadway shows), I will purchase a ticket. If a personal friend is involved in a production, I'll let you know, but it won't influence a review. If I feel there is a conflict, I won't review their portion of the production.

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