Sam's Job Sucks | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

Sam's Job Sucks

Take Mama to a play this weekend! See Loungeblog above for how to get half-price tickets, courtesy of the Jackson Free Press.

Think your job sucks? Trust me, Sam's is much worse. Sam, played by actor John Manzelli, is a sweet Midwestern out-of-work actor who takes reservations for an exclusive restaurant in New York City. "Fully Committed" (that's restaurant-speak for "no tables available" unless you're a supermodel, socialite or other VIP) is a one-man show presented by New Stage Theatre and directed by Roy Hamlin. In this clever play, written by Becky Mode, we get to witness a day in the life of Sam and his dealings with a multitude of eccentric people trying to get the best table, a last-minute special menu or simply a reservation.

John Manzelli, who is a real-life resident of Manhattan, shines in the role of Sam in this riotous comedy. Manzelli, as most big-city actors will admit, has personal experience in the restaurant business and as an out-of-work actor in New York City. This humble background may have helped prepare him for the part, which he also understudied three years ago. His true talent, however, lies in morphing from character to character at lightning speed.

Manzelli performs with an amazing schizophrenic force, sifting through different voices, accents and mannerisms as confidently as he juggles the phone calls coming into the reservation line. "Most of these characters are very common in New York City," Manzelli said in an interview at the New Stage Theatre. "So I sort of walked around New York and picked out different people to impersonate." Manzelli mimics up a storm, playing at times a pompous chef, a prankster co-worker, a spacey celebrity assistant and an old woman who has been on hold so long she can't remember who she called—all while the hold lines are bursting with fresh callers.

Here in the restaurant-saturated city of Jackson, where some of our finest eating establishments won't even accept reservations, it's hard to fathom such a frenzied phenomenon. But in Manhattan—the four-star land of Nobu, Babbo and Balthazar—the restaurant reservationist holds a powerful key: the authority to grant importance. "Fully Committed" gives us a hilarious glimpse into the crazed egos, bizarre requests and desperate measures to which hopeful patrons will stoop.

Don't miss this incredible performance. And save dinner for after the show—you will laugh until your stomach hurts. Besides, even if the show lets out early, you probably won't need a reservation for dinner.

"Fully Committed" is playing at New Stage Theatre from Wednesday April 30 through Saturday May 3 and Wednesday May 7 through Saturday May 10 at 7:30 pm. Matinees are scheduled for Sunday May 4 and May 11 at 2:00 pm. Tickets are $20 with discounts available for students, groups and senior citizens. For ticket information contact the box office at 601-948-3531.

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