Lake Dillon Theatre fulfills its commitment to comedy |

Lake Dillon Theatre fulfills its commitment to comedy

By all rights, Denver-based actor Christopher Willard should be fully committed to a psychiatric ward by now. After weeks of channeling about 40 distinct personalities, he converses with each character fluently and with ease, as if they have been talking to him all his life.

“Reservations, can you hold, please?”

Now, he’s brought his insanity to the mountains, as if rattling on in conversation with the zany voices will exorcise them for good. For the next three weekends, Willard transforms the Lake Dillon Theatre into a four-star, ridiculously trendy Upper East Side Manhattan restaurant – full of calls from people who coerce, threaten, bribe and go through full histrionics to land a reservation at the posh eatery – in his one-man show.

“Reservations, can you hold, please?”

There’s Bryce, from Naomi Campbell’s office, who calls several times to ask just a few teenie, eenie favors – can the chef whip up a masterpiece for Campbell with no wheat, no dairy, no soy, no sugar, no meat, serve it without using female waitstaff and replace any harsh lighting with halogen bulbs? There’s a senior citizen who expects her AARP discount from the $200-a-plate meal. There’s Mrs. Watanabe, who wants a 7 p.m. lunch reservation. There’s Hector, an Italian mafia leader. Willard’s even talking to the Sheik’s right-hand man.

“I’m sorry. We’re fully committed.”

“Fully committed” is the chef’s new policy. Instead of saying the restaurant is booked, he wants reservationist Sam Peliczowski (actor Willard) to state the restaurant is fully committed for the next two months.

Willard takes the audience on a hysterical, nail-biting ride as he portrays Peliczowski’s faster-than-a-New-York-minute life in his 80-minute performance.

Even the unique introductory request by Lake Dillon Theatre to turn off cell phones sets the audience up for a hysterical show.

Willard alternates between answering the phone as Peliczowski and playing the cunning callers on the other end in a schizophrenic display of versatility. His mannerisms and tone of voice change back and forth between characters within seconds in his fast-paced, wacky conversations.

Almost all of his characterizations were distinct; only once or twice did I detect a previous character’s voice or mannerisms in a new caller he introduced, but as quickly as I caught it, he deepened into the new caller, revealing yet another outrageous interaction.

Peliczowski answers the screaming phone as if he is batting down whack-a-demons at a video arcade, and at the same time, he battles his own private-life dilemmas. He’s an out-of-work actor, waiting for a callback. Meanwhile, his acting buddy just landed a commercial for Taco Bell. On top of it, his dad wants him to fly home for Christmas, but his boss demands he work.

Willard managed to draw the audience into his comedic drama so completely that when he finished his performance on opening night, viewers sighed with the kind of relief that comes after a great – but intensive – day of skiing or mountain biking.

Somehow, Willard became fully committed to channeling the array of colorful characters in Lake Dillon’s latest show without going certifiably insane. He even managed to use the antics in the restaurant to benefit his character’s personal growth.

Kimberly Nicoletti can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 245 or by e-mail at

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