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Review Roundup: FULLY COMMITTED, Starring Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Opens on Broadway - All the Reviews!

Five-time Emmy Award nominee Jesse Tyler Ferguson ("Modern Family," The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee) makes his highly anticipated return to Broadway as nearly 40 outrageous characters in the smash hit comedy, Fully Committed by Becky Mode, directed by Tony nominee Jason Moore (Avenue Q, Pitch Perfect, Sisters). Fully Committed officially opens tonight, April 25, 2016, on Broadway at the Lyceum Theatre.

You think you're having a bad day? Meet Sam (Ferguson). He works the red-hot reservation line at one of New York's trendiest restaurants, where the best food inspires the worst behavior. Coercion, petty threats, bribes, histrionics-a cast of desperate callers, all brought to life by Ferguson, will stop at nothing to land a prime reservation, or the right table in Becky Mode's hilarious and delicious comedy. Amid the barrage, Sam has his own problems to deal with. While juggling scheming socialites, name-dropping wannabes, fickle celebrities and egomaniacal bosses, can he still manage to look out for himself?

Let's see what the critics had to say...

Charles Isherwood, The New York Times: ...Jesse Tyler Ferguson, the sole performer in Becky Mode's "Fully Committed," is a comic dynamo with seemingly endless energy. Bounding around the stage of the Lyceum Theater...he jousts with not one or two but three different phones, nearly sweating through his gingham shirt as he gives voice to more than 40 characters, among them the harried but even-tempered central character, Sam...Mr. Ferguson, who began his career in the theater but sources his Broadway-headliner status from his role on ABC's "Modern Family," brings such warmth and variety to his performance that you may not notice that in the more than 15 years since the play opened Off Broadway, it has acquired a slightly sour aftertaste.

Mark Kennedy, Associated Press: There are some 40 people in the play and Ferguson voices all of them, from a mafia wiseguy to an imperious Bon Appetit magazine staffer, to an 86-year-old furniture maker to a Park Avenue socialite. He goes from stuffy French to surfer-guy cool in milliseconds. The 90-minute show...is a triumph of voices and athleticism from Ferguson...The amount of concentration required by Ferguson is impressive and director Jason Moore runs a tight ship. One stray ring or bobbled cue could set the whole thing off, but Ferguson runs through "Fully Committed" surefooted like an Olympian on an obstacle course.

Marilyn Stasio, Variety: Without bringing anything special to the role of the beleaguered reservations clerk, Ferguson's performance should remind the industry why this clever trifle is among the ten most-produced plays in the country...The funny voices and comic poses Ferguson adopts to play all these characters are no more amusing than they need to be. But he shines as one character: Sam. Not only does he bring a sense of true if battered humanity to the role, he also gives Sam all the satisfaction he deserves as the worm who finally turns -- and reveals that he has teeth.

David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter: In Fully Committed, Jesse Tyler Ferguson plays Sam, the hapless staffer left to man the phone lines solo at the most in-demand high-end restaurant in Manhattan. Aided only by lightning-fast shifts of his voice and physical mannerisms, he also plays Sam's bosses and co-workers, as well as his family, friends and professional associates, and the constant stream of customers on the end of his phone line, lobbying vociferously for a table. The virtuoso performance is one that begs to be described as a comedic tour de force, and unquestionably, Ferguson's efforts command applause, as do those of director Jason Moore, who has provided almost non-stop business for the actor to juggle.

Adam Feldman, Time Out NY: Before he became a household name as the uptight Mitchell onModern Family, Jesse Tyler Ferguson was one of New York's most inventive comic character actors. You can sense his delight at stretching those muscles in the Broadway revival of Fully Committed...Over the course of 80 minutes, he also portrays some three dozen other people...Ferguson's performance is necessarily broad, and not always precise: a half-British accent creeps into several voices. But it hardly matters. The actor's likability glazes his hamminess with sugar, and the play, while not very filling, can be enjoyed with few reservations.

Robert Kahn, NBC New York: "Modern Family" star Jesse Tyler Ferguson plays 40 roles-some male, some female; some civilized, others obnoxious-in "Fully Committed," a riotous one-man Broadway comedy set in the basement of a trendy Manhattan restaurant...This blissfully frenetic expedition takes things to a whole new level...Ultimately, we behold a fascinating evolution, as the beleaguered fella turns the tables on those who've been wounding his spirit. Everyone gets their just, uh, desserts? Revenge is a dish best served cold? Yes, and yes. "Fully Committed" wraps on a note more satisfying than anything we imagine is actually cooked up at this ridiculous restaurant.

Linda Winer, Newsday: Jesse Tyler Ferguson is a very talented fellow who, at least from an audience perspective, exudes exceptionally nice-guy qualities. So it feels bad to have to say this, but Ferguson, despite exhausting commitment to this demanding 80-minute comic showcase, is totally wrong for "Fully Committed." He is lovely as Sam, the desperate unemployed actor moonlighting as a reservationist in the basement of the hottest New York restaurant...And Ferguson, alas, appears to have five, maybe six voices at his command. This is no crime, were the whole point something other than a showoff platform for an expert impersonator and vocal chameleon.

Terry Teachout, Wall Street Journal: The immensely likable Mr. Ferguson doesn't quite have the vocal flexibility necessary to impersonate so widely varied a gallery of characters, and so the tour-de-force aspect of "Fully Committed" isn't fully realized. Even so, his acting crackles with physical energy and comic life, and it won't take long for you to shelve your doubts and buy into his performance. The play itself is a piece of very well-made fluff, a solo farce whose principal subject is the bottomless vanity of the restaurant's customers (and chef) and in which the laughter is pretty close to nonstop. If it's light entertainment you crave, you're in luck.

Joe Dziemianowicz, New York Daily News: The play by Becky Mode...has been updated for a world that's slightly less obsessed with the "it" restaurant of the moment...Mode doesn't chase stinging satire, just laughs -- and snags a few good ones. Director Jason Moore keeps things moving briskly and as dynamically as possible...Ferguson has proven himself a likable clown in Shakespeare plays and musicals like "On the Town" and "The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee." But that's not the same as being a chameleon capable of shifting instantaneously from one vivid character to another. Ferguson lisps, growls and crosses his eyes gamely, but people on the other end of the phone line are rarely remarkable. The actor is fully committed, yes, but the production isn't totally satisfying.

Jeremy Gerard, Deadline: As it happens, I was once married to a restaurant like Sam's, and I can say with some authority that the hilariously aptly named Ms. Mode knows whereof she speaks...Tyler Ferguson navigates these human mountains and valleys, major torrents and tricky rivulets, with precision and even empathy; it's a virtuosic performance and the audience, you should pardon the expression, eats it up...At barely 70 minutes, Fully Committed is not so much a meal as an amuse-bouche, that clever little thingy the chef sends out before your meal to tickle your palate and show off his inventiveness, and is made of stuff you never heard of. A gulp and it's gone.

Robert Hofler, TheWrap: Becky Mode's "Fully Committed" is that one-person play for theatergoers who hate one-person plays. Which is most theatergoers...Fans of this restaurant-reservationist comedy will not be disappointed, and fans of "Modern Family" will be delighted to see Jesse Tyler Ferguson live on stage playing not one character but a few dozen. What lifts "Fully Committed" from the doldrums of having to watch one actor on stage playing one character for 90 minutes are all the people who call Sam to make a reservation at an absurdly exclusive restaurant...It's only food, of course. But in the end, it's so much more. It's ego. It's prestige. It's power.

Matt Windman, amNY: The heart of "Fully Committed" lies in Sam, who is willing to endure an overwhelming job where he is routinely humiliated and mistreated in order to pursue his acting ambitions. But for the most part, it is an empty, overextended actor showcase. By the end, it has become a whirling blur of silly voices and high-strung personalities. Under the direction of Jason Moore ("Avenue Q"), Ferguson throws himself into it head first. And if it was being staged at a smaller space, it may very well have been captivating. But on the Lyceum Theatre stage, it looks naked. The overly elaborate set (full of pipes, file cabinets and chairs that ascend to the heavens) also takes attention away from Ferguson's performance.

Melissa Rose Bernardo, Entertainment Weekly: No prime-time sitcom star returns to the theater more faithfully than Jesse Tyler Ferguson...It's a smart move: a one-man, 30-plus-character, 90-minute comedy where he can flex his impressive comic muscles in four-walled, air-conditioned comfort...Ferguson juggles all of these personalities rather deftly, making only a few fumbles. It takes about three calls for the ego-tastic chef to really take shape, and reservations manager Bob never really becomes instantly identifiable...Fully Committed is full of laughs, but leaves you wanting more... B+

Alexis Soloski, The Guardian: Digs once targeted at Naomi Campbell are now meant for Gwyneth Paltrow and the current menu parodies the trend toward high-end foraging favorites...Some of the jokes could be sharper and even as the script skewers the horrifying patrons, it is often strangely polite...Ferguson is an actor of such irrepressible amiability...Under Jason Moore's direction, a few of the actorly shifts could occur more quickly and not all the personae have a gestural specificity to match the vocal one. But moving back and forth among 40 distinct characters still represents a tour de force, which Ferguson wears lightly, even humbly, though with obvious enjoyment.

Robert Feldberg, Bergen Record: He's not the world's greatest impersonator, and, especially at the beginning of the 80-minute show, some of the characters blur together. It's also distracting when he jumps out of his chair to briefly mimic the gestures of the unseen callers. But the show, directed by Jason Moore, soon settles down, and, despite not being a virtuoso of voices, Ferguson uses his performing skill and endearing personality to create a very engaging evening.

Jesse Green, Vulture: I don't know if it qualifies as part of Broadway's ongoing diversity initiative, but in Fully Committed, the one-man comedy opening tonight at the Lyceum, that Ginger-American Jesse Tyler Ferguson plays, by my count, an astonishing 34 roles, together constituting a rainbow of assholes. Initially he's just Sam Callahan, a struggling actor sullenly working a pre-Christmas shift taking reservations at a superhot Manhattan restaurant. But as the outside lines, the in-house intercoms, and his own cellphone start ringing, Ferguson takes on the vocal and gestural lives of all the callers: would-be guests, terrified assistants; his agent, friends, frenemies, and family; the arrogant chef, the tantrum-y maître d', and various others, all exploding with ASAP demands. Needless to say, this being a restaurant, none of the demands is a true emergency, no matter how much the callers bully and scream - unless accommodating Gwyneth Paltrow with an all-vegan tasting menu for 15, with flattering light bulbs and no women servers, counts as an emergency.

Peter Marks, Washington Post: "Fully Committed" has essentially a one-joke premise, which becomes apparent after about 20 minutes of ringing phones; a slender subplot revolving around Sam's recently widowed dad in the Midwest, whose fondest hope is that Sam won't have to work on Christmas, does add a soupçon of genuine warmth. The sustained enjoyment comes from the impressively controlled mayhem activated by Ferguson, under Jason Moore's savvy direction. The actor not only manages to soothe Sam's savage callers, but also the most judgmental of the evening's ticketholders.

Photo Credit: Joan Marcus

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