In a real estate-obsessed town like New York, what would you consider to be the most coveted piece of property?
The Freedom Tower? Maybe the Empire State Building or something along Fifth Avenue?
How about a prime-time dinner seating at a sought-after, trendy restaurant?
“The most powerful are fighting for the same real estate and there are only 25 tables,” Becky Mode told Modern Restaurant Management magazine. “The kings and queens fight with themselves.”
The playwright turned that quest for a culinary crown jewel into the one-man comedy, “Fully Committed.” Now playing at the Lyceum Theatre, the production features the talents of Jesse Tyler Ferguson, best known for “Modern Family.” He returns to Broadway portraying nearly 40 outrageous characters. As Sam, an actor experiencing a dry spell, he takes reservations for one of the city’s hottest restaurants. Dealing with threats, bribes, scheming socialites, name‐dropping wannabes, fickle celebrities and egomaniacal bosses is all in a day’s work.
First produced in 2000, the play is based on characters created by Mode and Mark Setlock and taken from their experiences working in the underbelly of the high‐end restaurant trade.
“It was amazing to be privy to the degree of frenzy and be backstage to something extraordinary,” said Mode. “People wanted to experience the cuisine.”
Mode updated “Fully Committed” to tailor the central character to Ferguson, make it more current and reflect the “foodie” explosion that has taken over in the ensuing years.
“I liked the idea of updating and seeing the play as a living thing,” she said. “The celebrity chef culture is even more apparent. They’re rock stars. A wild ramp was a crazy delicacy then and now it’s in a local salad.”
She keyed in on one food trend: molecular gastronomy because she saw it as an area where she could really have fun with the menu items. She also incorporated subtle technological advances and the branding process.
“Back then, the chef in the play had a cookbook,” she said. “Now he has a brand. There were world-class chefs, but they weren’t as much a part of popular culture. They now have a global presence.”
Mode’s advice to get a table at a New York City dining hot spot: Call the day of as there are always cancellations and be polite to the person answering the phone.
“I always felt good behavior went a long way with me. I would do whatever I could if someone sounded like a good egg.”
Directed by Jason Moore, the play is produced by Barbara Whitman, Patrick Catullo, Marcia Goldberg, Tom Casserly, Aaron Glick and David Binder. The creative team includes: Derek McLane (Set), Sarah Laux (Costume), Ben Stanton (Lighting), Darron L West (Sound) and Jeff Richmond (Original Music).
The limited engagement ends July 24. Tickets to “Fully Committed” are on sale at Telecharge.com. Follow @FullyBroadway on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and visit FullyBroadway.com.