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Jesse Tyler Ferguson overcommits in ‘Fully Committed’

Jesse Tyler Ferguson plays Sam, an out-of-work actor,

Jesse Tyler Ferguson plays Sam, an out-of-work actor, in "Fully Committed." Photo Credit: Joan Marcus

Forget SoulCycle. The best way to get in shape this season is performing Becky Mode’s one-man comedy “Fully Committed,” in which Jesse Tyler Ferguson runs back and forth for 80 minutes playing Sam, an out-of-work actor manning the phones of a trendy Manhattan restaurant, and the dozens of people who are desperate to score a reservation. Halfway through, you can see his shirt drenched in sweat.

Before he won fame as Mitchell on the TV sitcom “Modern Family,” Ferguson appeared on Broadway in “On the Town” and “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.” Even in recent years, Ferguson has performed supporting roles in multiple Shakespeare in the Park productions. “Fully Committed” marks the first time he takes the lead in a show. In fact, he is the show.

The well-meaning, sensitive and stressed-out Sam is not so different from Mitchell. By contrast, the customers and Sam’s co-workers are eccentric and extremely demanding. For instance, the assistant of a famous film actress calls in insisting that the actress cannot have any female wait staff and wants to use her own light bulbs.

The heart of “Fully Committed” lies in Sam, who is willing to endure an overwhelming job where he is routinely humiliated and mistreated in order to pursue his acting ambitions. But for the most part, it is an empty, overextended actor showcase. By the end, it has become a whirling blur of silly voices and high-strung personalities.

Under the direction of Jason Moore (“Avenue Q”), Ferguson throws himself into it head first. And if it was being staged at a smaller space, it may very well have been captivating. But on the Lyceum Theatre stage, it looks naked. The overly elaborate set (full of pipes, file cabinets and chairs that ascend to the heavens) also takes attention away from Ferguson’s performance.

If you go

“Fully Committed” plays through July 24 at the Lyceum Theatre. 149 W. 45th St., fullycommittedbroadway.com.

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