Live theatre returns to Red Deer this week with the re-launch of the zany Broadway hit Fully Committed at Festival Hall.
This one-woman show for Central Alberta Theatre ran for only three energetic performances in 2020 before it had to be cancelled at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Now, two long years later, actor Ash Mercia is once again primed for the Thursday’s re-opening of this satire.
Mercia will be tackling about 40 various roles, under the direction of Tanya Ryga, in a play that depicts people behaving badly, while also poking fun at New York elites and the foodie culture.
With the Omicron variant beginning to wane and more people receiving COVID-19 booster shots, CAT president Craig Scott is hoping theatre-goers will find their way back to performance halls to check out Fully Committed (which runs Jan. 27 to Feb. 12,) as well as CAT’s March show, Hilda’s Yard, and the One-Act Play Festival in April.
“A lot of effort has been put in” both on and off the stage, added Craig.
To keep the audience as safe as possible, he noted extra sanitation measures were put in place at Red Deer’s Festival Hall. As well, seating was reduced to 72 in the 106-person facility. Masks will have to be worn whenever patrons leave their tables. And CAT is participating in the provincial exemptions program, which means everyone attending must either be vaccinated or submit a negative COVID antigen test result.
Fully Committed, by American playwright Becky Mode, has been called “hilarious” and a “tartly flavoured” “delectable treat” when it ran on Broadway during its original production and several revivals.
Ryga, from the Sylvan Lake area, is excited to be re-mounting a play that made a big impression when she saw it many years ago. With more people now returning to movie theatres and sports arenas, she anticipates this time it will be able to continue as planned.
The retired Red Deer College acting instructor knew Mercia would be perfect for the one-actor show. As one of her former students, Mercia left Ryga amazed by her ability to slip into many roles and create unique characters.
This talent for morphing will be pushed to the limit in Fully Committed, in which Mercia plays Sam, an overworked, often bullied, restaurant worker who takes reservations for a posh eatery with a three-month waiting list. She will also depict a wide array of bizarrely demanding characters — from mobsters to socialites and a certain actress/model who wants to bring 16 of her closest friends and have the lights changed at their restaurant table so the ambiance is just right.
And a hierarchy of restaurant staff will be portrayed by Mercia, including the chef and maitre’d who feel they can abuse Sam, a ‘nobody.’
Ryga believes the play will be relatable to anyone who’s been put-upon by bosses, co-workers or the general public. By lampooning people behaving badly, “it’s very entertaining,” she said. “It’s a satire of the rich and famous and the ruthlessness of people.”
For more information about this production, which can be seen as a dinner, brunch or tapas theatre, or as a play only version, please visit centralalbertatheatrereddeer.com.