Stars light up the Theatre Asylum stage at this year’s Hollywood Fringe festival as a quartet of fictional Broadway/Hollywood divas vie for a sitcom pilot lead in Stan Zimmerman and Christian McLaughlin’s outrageously funny Meet & Greet.
Broadway legend Margo Jane Marsden (Carolyn Hennesy), former sitcom costars Belinda Reid (Vicki Lewis) and Teri Valentine (Teresa Ganzel), and Real Housekeepers Of Palm Beach star Desiree White (Daniele Gaither) have been summoned to a San Fernando Valley casting office to read for the role of Andrea in a soon-to-be-shot pilot.
Not surprisingly, each finds the presence of the other three more than a bit irritating, and surprising as well, since no four actresses could be more dissimilar than classically trained stage vet Margo, loony-bin-ready Belinda, blonde dingbat Teri, and trashy spandexed Desiree.
As the office’s twinky gay casting assistant (Paul Iacono) summons each candidate to the casting directors’ inner sanctum, co-writers Zimmerman and McLaughlin let the remaining three skewer today’s Hollywood—and each other—with in-joke after in-joke, none of them so “in” as to fly over the head of your average everyday Hollywood-savvy Angelino.
At the same time, we get to know each actress’s back story, e.g. Belinda and Teri’s long-simmering feud, along with what each is doing these days. (Teri is selling her own health and beauty line on QVC, Belinda has recently played Medea—the original, not the Tyler Perry role.) Netflix, Twitter, and The Valley find themselves the targets of one-liner after one-liner.
Under Zimmerman’s snappy direction, Hennesy makes for grand and glamorous Margo, Lewis couldn’t be more wonderfully wacky as Belinda, Ganzel reprises the ditzy blonde she perfected opposite Johnny Carson in the 1980s, and Gaither vanishes quite breathtakingly into Desiree’s NeNe Leakes-like skin. As for Iacono, it’s hard to imagine a more engaging casting assistant than the up-and-coming star of MTV’s The Hard Times of RJ Berger and the recent gay indie G.B.F.
Top marks go to Kevin King’s costumes, Eusebio Aynaga’s wigs, and Rick Crane’s TV show posters. Britt Keller is stage manager and Chelsea Pitillo assistant director.
To paraphrase Daily Variety:
A+ CAST PLUS BOFFO SCRIPT EQUALS FRINGE FEST SMASH.
June 22, 2014