Backstage: Weston Playhouse, "Fully Committed"
06/24/09 5:30PM By Susan Keese
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(Host) The Weston playhouse opens its summer season this week with a one-man comedy starring Sam Lloyd Jr.
Lloyd grew up in Weston. He now lives in Hollywood and plays Ted, the lawyer on the T-V series "Scrubs." In fast-paced hit "Fully Committed," he plays a whole cast of characters.
VPR's Susan Keese went backstage for a preview.
(Keese) Sam Lloyd Jr. admits he occasionally wonders what possessed him to take on a show as *taxing as this one. It's a story about an aspiring actor who works as a reservation clerk at a trendy New York restaurant.
The role not only keeps him onstage talking nonstop for the entire play...
(Lloyd) "Thank you for holding, how may I help you?"
(Keese) He also has to turn into another person every time the phone rings.
(Alternate voice) "Hi Sam! It's Bryce from Naomi Campbell's office! Listen! I can't remember whether I specified that Naomi wants an all-vegan tasting menu on Saturday night."
(Sam) "Actually you didn't."
(Bryce) "Oh sweet Mary! That's why I always check these things three and four times. Okay. She definitely needs an all-vegan tasting menu."
(Keese) The play is set in the restaurant's basement, where Sam Peliczowski juggles phones, intercoms - and egos.
(Lloyd) " So he plays himself as well as every person that calls in to make a reservation, as well as the chef..."
(Sound of buzzer)
(Sam)) "What is it Jean Claude?"
(Chef) "Who the hell is Mrs. Fishbag?"
(Keese) There's also the maitre d'....
(Oscar) "Sam, her husband makes a lot of money."
(Keese) And Sam's recently widowed father who wants him to come home to the Midwest for Christmas - a trip he can't afford, even if he could get the time off.
(Dad) "Well, you know, today's the last day for that 21-day advance deal on US Air."
(Keese) All in all, Lloyd plays almost forty characters without so much as a wig or a phony moustache to help him get each person across.
(Lloyd) "It's just so fast. There's no time to do it. I do it through my body and my voice."
(Keese) A role like this can stretch an actor to his limits, which is always a good thing. But Lloyd says "Fully Committed" is more than a gimmicky, quick-change tour de force.
(Lloyd) "The play's actually really well written. And tells a really great story, that's funny and has real heart to it."
(Keese) It's a story that also strikes close to home - so much so that Lloyd says the fact that he and the central character share the same name, Sam, felt a little eerie at first.
(Lloyd) "As far as struggling, as far as getting turned down for roles, and the feeling of when you do get a callback you know, which happens in this....".
(Keese) Lloyd grew up in an acting family - his mother, father and stepmother have all been regulars at the Weston Playhouse and Lloyd himself was 3 when he played his first role.
Lloyd's Uncle, the emmy winning actor Christopher Lloyd, provided him with a place to stay when he went to try his luck in Hollywood.
But the rest, says Lloyd, has been his own doing.
He's landed parts in dozens of movies and tv shows. His stint with "Scrubs" has lasted nine years, but the show is ending this year.
(Lloyd) "After that, I'm out of work again."
(Keese) Lloyd says another thing he has in common with Sam Peliczowski is the need to be more assertive in pursuing his dreams.
That's a lesson the character Sam learns from one of the play's more annoying callers.(Telephone ringing)
(Sam) "Thank you for holding, how can I help you?".
(Fishburn) " First of All, I've been holding for ten minutes. Number 2, you have to do something about that music. Those crescendos are really very piercing."
(Keese) It's one of many callers audiences will end up getting to know - as will Sam, who finds out that her dinner guest is someone he very much wants to meet.
Weston Producing Director Steve Stettler - who also directs this play- says the play is about taking control of one's life. And he says Lloyd manages to take control of this difficult script and bring out the humanity in all of the characters he plays.
Which is no mean feat, even for an actor who *isn't out of work.
(Keese) For VPR Backstage, I'm Susan Keese