By Elizabeth Ann Foster
The theater is back and it is safe to attend.
For the first time since March theatergoers can enjoy live theater in an actual theater. The Music Theatre of Connecticut in Norwalk is just one of three theaters that struck an agreement with the Actor’s Equity Association and their state governor to hold live performances under strict guidelines.
In the 110 seat theater, 23 seats are allowed to be sold for live performances and 87 for the virtual viewing. Additionally, 2 house personnel are allowed in the theater. Depending on your seating section there is timed entry. You are called from the parking lot at the designated time, and your temperature is taken. One way in – one way out. No intermission. No bar. Unused seats are covered and families are grouped in pods throughout the theatre. There is no walking over someone in a row. No walking into an infected spray, as only your group walks in, alone, and everyone wears their mask throughout the entire performance and while inside. The theater is burned between shows – which is the affectionate way of saying the UV light system sterilizes the entire space prior to each performance.
A level of detail to safety is lovingly enacted to ensure you not only feel safe but are.
Now that you are super safe what about the show?
A one actor show where the actor is safely more than 12 feet from the audience. No singing allowed so this is the perfect script for our times. Fully Committed has a long history off-Broadway at the Vineyard, overseas to the West end in London, and then back across the pond on Broadway and now at the Music Theatre of Connecticut. Only half a decade old the play speaks to a pre-COVID-19 era that is long gone – the celebrity chef restaurant. With the closure of many of the biggest names like 11 Madison in NYC, this play focuses on the bygone era of trying to get a table at the hottest spot. One cannot even eat indoors to date in the theater district.
The play is a day/shift in the life of Sam Peliczowski (Matt Densky), a part-time employee who answers the phone for the hottest celebrity chef and his restaurant. Remember the days when you used to call up and reserve a table? There were no apps and you could dine in a restaurant. Sam is the man that everyone wants to cozy up to and sway to get their way. He holds the chairs to the tables. Densky exhausts us in his superb performance commanding no less than 5 phones simultaneously. This is a challenging role for any actor given that you have to remember what phone is which and who is on hold in a dizzying pace that leaves the audience promising to be nicer to the next person they speak to in any customer service position.
“I’m happiest when people come away really feeling for the guy at the other end of the phone. Whether it’s working in a restaurant or in some lousy customer services job, it’s so easy to behave poorly on the phone. I’m ashamed to say I’m sure I’ve done that myself.” Becky Mode, playwright.
This small black box theatre is the perfect venue for this production. The stage is cleverly set up to make you feel your in a makeshift office, in a basement out of sight, and immersed in Sam’s challenges.
Although Fully Committed closes 9/27/20 their next offering this season is RFK by Jack Holmes runs October 23- November 8, 2020. Those of you requiring a theater fix make it your business to get out of the city, take Metro-North, and support regional theater as they pave the way for the great white way.
Fully Committed – written by Becky Mode
With Matt Densky (Sam Peliczowski).
Directed by Kevin Connors; stage-managed by Jim Schilling; scenic design by Jessie Lizotte; costume design by Diane Vanderkroef; lighting design by RJ Romeo; sound design by Will Atkin; production assistance by Jack Parrotta.
Music Theatre of Connecticut 509 Westport Avenue Norwalk, Connecticut. September 11- 27 2020. Fridays at 8:00 pm, Saturdays at 2:00 pm and 8:00 pm, Sundays at 2:00 pm. Live tickets limited to 23 seats per show $55-$70 virtual seating is $25 limited to 87 seats. For in-person tickets please call the box office at 203-454-3883. Virtual tickets are available at https://www.musictheatreofct.com. Run time 90 minutes with no intermission.