COURTESY MANOA VALLEY THEATRE
Greg Howell successfully reprises his role -- make that roles -- in the comedic one-man show "Fully Committed," now playing at Manoa Valley Theatre.
‘Fully’ loaded with skill
Howell has "Committed" his talent to a comic romp
There is a likelihood of déjà vu for veteran theater fans as Greg Howell soars triumphant through Manoa Valley Theatre's current "Fully Committed." Howell did the show a little over four years ago when The ARTS at Marks Garage presented playwright Becky Mode's fast-moving one-man show, but MVT has made changes that turn the show into a fresh, albeit familiar, experience.
On stage: 7:30 p.m. Wednesdays and Thursdays, 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, and 4 p.m. Sunday, through Dec. 3
Place: Manoa Valley Theatre, 2833 E. Manoa Road
Tickets: $30, with discounts for seniors, military and ages 25 and younger
Call: 988-6231 or visit manoavalleytheatre.com
Karen Archibald's expansive set gives Howell much more room than he had at The ARTS, and more material to work with as well -- a basketball hoop over a wastepaper basket, for instance, and strings of temperamental Christmas lights. Janine Myers (lighting), BullDog (sound) and Sara Ward (props) add other embellishments, and MVT veteran Betty Burdick as director provides a new overall perspective, too.
Other than that, it's all Howell. The first few transitions from one character to another are jarring, but from then on his skillful use of vocal inflection, accents and body language creates a kaleidoscopic cast of characters and makes this demanding comedy a delightful experience.
The protagonist, Sam Delazowski, is a struggling actor whose day job is taking reservations at a Big Apple restaurant that serves a menu so ridiculously trendy that the place is "fully committed" weeks in advance -- celebrities, the very rich and restaurant reviewers exempted, of course! On this particular day, a few weeks before Christmas, Sam is working solo and the phones are going crazy.
Naomi Campbell's personal assistant wants a vegan tasting menu for 14, and will be sending someone over to change all the light bulbs near Naomi's table to the type that Naomi likes. A gangster wants someone to do a tableside performance of "The Lady is a Tramp" while his parents are celebrating their anniversary. Callers from other parts of the country obviously have no idea how exclusive and expensive the restaurant is. Several other callers can barely speak English.
Sam must handle the demands of the rich-and-difficult, and inform lesser mortals that the restaurant is "fully committed" until early next year, while also screening calls for "The Chef" and the snobbish maitre d'.
Howell does an excellent job developing Sam into a three-dimensional character -- a sympathetic "everyman." Most of the callers also register as distinct voices -- The Chef, a crude bully more interested in hearing from his Ferrari dealer than from his mother; the maitre d', so snooty that he refuses to take one rich customer's calls because "she looks like a catfish." There's also Jerry, a self-styled "friend" (and fellow actor) who calls to let Sam know that he got a call-back for a show they'd both auditioned for.
Nothing drags and everything works. This show should be "fully committed" for the rest of the run.