When you go see Jesse Tyler Ferguson play the forty or so characters in “Fully Committed,” the one-man show that opened on Broadway April 25, you might see some people you know there. Up on stage, that is.
“You might hear a little Tim Gunn, you might hear a little Julia Child,” said director Jason Moore, who got his start in theater (“Avenue Q”) before moving on to TV and film (“Pitch Perfect,” “Sisters”). “It’s nice to have a sound to start from, especially when you have 40 voices to do. And I think some of them are based on some of Jesse’s friends, but I don’t think they know that yet.”
“Well, if Richard Kind comes, he might recognize his voice,” admitted Ferguson, a theater kid (“The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee”) who still regularly makes time for the stage alongside his “Modern Family” commitments. “Eric Stonestreet, I have elements of him in some of the characters. Sofia Vergara, if she shows up, will be very surprised.”
The play centers on a reservationist at Manhattan’s hottest restaurant, and the many people he deals with on the phone every day. Playwright Becky Mode (“Smash”) first wrote the play about 15 years ago (inspired by her own gig in a similar job), but this time around she updated it to work in new developments in contemporary foodie culture.
As such, research was required — which meant some pricey meals at superchic spots like Momofuko Ko and 11 Madison Park.
“The most ridiculous thing I had was an inflated pig’s bladder with something inside,” Mode recalled with a laugh at the opening night afterparty. “The most fabulous was this thing at 11 Madison Park that was like Eggs Benedict caviar. It sounds bizarre, but it was incredible. And then peppermint snow, which is mentioned in the play. We had peppermint snow there.”
That bladder thing certainly made an impression. “We had some sort of parsnip served in — I want to say it was like a cow’s uterus, but it wasn’t. Some sort of organ it was cooked in,” Ferguson mused.
Was it the pig’s bladder that Mode was talking about? “Yes, that’s it, it was a pig’s bladder!” he said. “I loved that dish.”
“Fully Committed” is very New York, but Moore thinks it could be a whole franchise. “I keep telling Becky that there’s gotta be a play like this about valet parkers,” he said. Call it “Fully Committed: L.A.”