Supporting the Arts in Western Massachusetts and Beyond

August 9, 2019

REVIEW: TheaterWorks, Fully Committed

TheaterWorks, Hartford, CT, at Wadsworth Atheneum
through September 1, 2019
by Jarice Hanson

For anyone who appreciates an actor with the talent, energy, and total commitment necessary to capture an audience for 80 minutes of non-stop entertainment—Jamison Stern is golden. In “Fully Committed,” a clever, well-written comedy penned by Becky Mode, Stern performs 33 characters, portraying each one so clearly, the audience never doubts what they look like. In fact, those watching Stern, left wondering if he was portraying a number of people we knew.

Undoubtedly, many of the audience members recognized and appreciated Stern’s comedic ability from last year’s “The Legend of Georgia McBride” at TheaterWorks, or perhaps from his success as Zaza in “La Cage Aux Folles” at the Goodspeed. Audience expectations were high, and from the final ovation, all expectations were satisfied.

Director Bill Fennelly keeps the pace fast and Brian Prather’s ingenious set design shows us the bowels of a New York City restaurant where “Sam,” an aspiring actor, makes ends meet by taking reservations and fielding phone calls for the upscale restaurant where the chef’s creations have built a clamor for reservations three months out. The description of the cuisine is hilarious, as are the characters who make up the staff—all portrayed by Stern, who juggles phone calls and the in-house communication system. 

Though “Fully Committed” is a comedic tour-de-force for an actor as skilled as Stern, the script itself is a work of comedic art. This show has warmth, heart, and the type of ending that makes an audience cheer when our hero takes matters into his own hands. Human communication, the pomposity of the rich, and the insecurity of the powerful become showcased so that for anyone who has every felt belittled by someone else (and who hasn’t had that experience?) finds self-worth.  

TheaterWorks originally staged this play in 2002 with another actor, at a time when the show was a regional theater hit across the country. This production has been updated for relevance and the updates hit home. As the last production staged at the Wadsworth before TheaterWorks returns to its renovated Pearl Street home, the intimacy and poignancy of “Fully Committed” is an appropriate way to mark the passage of time.