BWW Reviews: World Premiere Comedy MEET & GREET Takes Place in a Most Unusual Casting Office
Highlighted with brilliant acting, writing and directing, the world premiere comedy MEET & GREET is bound to be one of the biggest hits at this year's Hollywood Fringe Festival. The premise is we are in a casting office in the San Fernando Valley, present day. Four actresses have been called in for one part during pilot season, and each one appears to be at the end of her acting rope and really needs the job.
Each is greeted by a catty, young, gay male CASTING ASSISTANT (Paul Iacono) who seems to be more than happy to feed the egos of the needy actresses. As he escorts each actress into the off stage casting meeting, the other three reveal much about their lives, needs, and many shortcomings.
The first to arrive is MARGO JANE MARSDEN (Carolyn Hennesy), a snobbish Broadway diva making her first foray into series television. Next comes BELINDA REID (Vicki Lewis), a scattered, heavily medicated, mentally unstable former sitcom star whose life hit the skids after her hit show was canceled prematurely fifteen years ago. She blames her ex-co-star and former best friend TERI VALENTINE (Teresa Ganzel), a ditzy gorgeous blonde who quit the show before the second season under the influence of her then-manager/husband. Belinda freaks out when Teri arrives, since they haven't spoken or seen each other since Teri abruptly left their hit series - "You Better Work". Not helping matters is the fact that Teri looks like she's barely aged and has a super-successful line of health and beauty products, a Malibu beach house and a hot young husband.
The last to show up is DESIREE WHITE (Daniele Gaither), a volatile, opinionated African-American reality star who shot to fame on the hit Bravo series "The Real Housekeepers of Palm Beach" and her own subsequent spin-off "Cray-Cray For Desiree". This is Desiree's first attempt at acting in a scripted show, which irks classically trained, Tony-winning Margo.
The four actresses are all fabulous, generating laughs galore from the brilliant script laden with Hollywood TV and film references by Stan Zimmerman (who also directs), and Christian McLaughlin. The audience roared at every show biz reference from the ladies, this being Hollywood and the in-jokes often everyday occurrences in most of the audience's lives.
As each woman is called in to meet the off-stage casting staff, their competitive edge takes over and the four women pull out all stops to get the part and earn their 15 minutes of fame, or 12 minutes on basic cable with commercials. The differences in their training, class (or lack thereof), and personality bounce off each other at breakneck speed, taking the audience along for the joy ride.
Wonderful spot-on character costumes by Kevin King enhance their individual personalities and personality quirks. And the clever twist at the end will no doubt take you by surprise!
There is one more performance at Theatre Asylum, 6320 Santa Monica Blvd, Los Angeles, 90038 on Saturday, June 28 at 7pm. Tickets are $15 and can be ordered in advance at http://encores.stagey.net/1517