The Lake Dillon Theatre is "Fully Committed’ to comedy
DILLON – Many of us moved to vacationland to ski and ride – often lured by the free ski passes. We sat through the ski resorts’ orientations, listening to managers drill customer service skills into our brains – brain that were absent that day, tallying up the number of days we’d rack up in our first season.
Then the holidays hit, and those annoying calls came in, those tourists asked us one too many times how many inches would fall this weekend, those stressed vacationers complained the runs were too icy, too powdery, too moguly, too crowded, and we had to listen – and be nice because we represented “the mountain.”
If this scenario seems even vaguely familiar, count your blessings. Sam Peliczowski has had it worse.
Sam is an out-of-work actor who mans the red-hot reservation line at Manhattan’s No. 1 posh restaurant in the Lake Dillon Theatre’s latest production, “Fully Committed.” He deals with desperate callers who will do anything – including coerce, threaten, bribe and go through full histrionics – to land a prime table and time at the restaurant.
He diplomatically handles characters like Bunny, who thinks she’s American royalty because her husband invented Saran wrap and Mrs. Seabag, who goes through the five stages of dying (denial, bargaining, anger, grief, acceptance) when she discovers her reservation has been lost.
Amid the barrage, Sam has his own needs to contend with (you know how it is when it’s a powder day and you have to bump chairs or teach 4-year-olds how to make a wedge).
“People who work with the public or who have made reservations will resonate with Sam, and the rest of us will just thank God we’re not Sam and thank God we’re not those people calling in,” said Christopher Willard, who plays Sam in the one-man performance. “In one regard or another, everyone has been in a situation where their back is against the wall and they’ve had to be diplomatic. People are people, and they have basic needs and wants. Sometimes they’re very primal, and that comes out in making restaurant reservations, because food is very primal.”
Essentially, the play is a comedy, but it has a deeper layer of character development.
“Sam does his best to keep everyone happy, but he has his own crises,” Willard said. “He’s trying to find that magic key that will open the door for himself. The key to this play is that every one of these characters come from a place of desperation. It could be just a gimmick play, but it’s not. It has a whole other layer to it. It’s Sam’s journey and his growth.”
Willard, who directed “Eleemosynary” at the Lake Dillon Theatre last year, plays more than 40 characters, alternating between Sam, who answers the phones, and the callers on the other end of the line.
It took him a week – working in two- to three-hour spurts – to create the flow of schizophrenic callers in his head. Artistic director Chris Alleman and a few of Willard’s director friends helped him perfect the subtle changes in voice and mannerisms to make each character distinct. Willard also reviewed tapes of himself.
Though he has been an actor since grade school, earned his master’s degree in theater direction and is the house manager at the Arvada Center for the Arts and Humanities, his one-man show is one of the most challenging of his career.
Becky Mode, a writer for “The Cosby Show” and “Sesame Street,” and Mark Setlock wrote “Fully Committed” based on their shared work experiences at a high class restaurant.
The play opens at 7:30 p.m. today and runs Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights at the Lake Dillon Theatre. Tickets are $15 and may be purchased by calling (970) 513-9386. “Fully Committed” contains some adult language.
Kimberly Nicoletti can be reached at (970) 668-3998 ext. 245 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
– When: 7:30 p.m. Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays through April 27
– Where: Lake Dillon Theatre, Dillon
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