Tribeca Review: First Time Female Director

Tribeca Review: First Time Female Director


In “First Time Female Director,” Chelsea Peretti isn’t just the brain behind the script; she’s also front and center as Sam, a playwright turned accidental director at the Regis, a cozy community theater in Glendale, California. The gig comes her way after the previous director gets the boot for shady behavior, and Sam’s offered double her normal pay to step in by Sheldon, the theater’s manager played by Andy Richter. But not everyone’s thrilled about Sam’s new role, especially the theater’s regular troupe of big personalities.

The cast is a mixed bag of quirky characters. There’s Davina (Meg Stalter), a diva influencer; Rudie (Benito Skinner), who’s all kinds of bossy and fabulous; Marjorie (Megan Mullally), the veteran actress who’s seen it all; Simon (Jak Knight), laid-back but unsure; Clara (Kate Berlant), a method actor who’s all business; and Gordon (Blake Anderson), the too-cool-for-school leading man. They all bring their own brand of drama, and when Sam steps up to direct, tensions and egos clash spectacularly.

These actors aren’t just background noise; they each shine in their own right, often stealing the spotlight the moment someone else blinks. Stalter’s Davina, with her sponsor-laden headbands and plans to auction off her undies, is a standout. She’s hilarious, especially when she tries to skip rehearsal, pleading a need to pick up Jamocha shakes for her and her mom—a line delivered with such sass you’d think she’s aiming for a laugh from the Arby’s drive-thru attendant.

Peretti’s writing gives everyone a chance to sparkle, but she saves some of the best bits for herself. Sam’s journey in the director’s chair is both funny and a tad poignant as she navigates the ridiculous demands of her cast while trying to fit the traditional mold of a playwright. Peretti’s physical comedy skills are on full display, adding to the fun.

She even ropes in some celebrity cameos, including a hilarious spot by her husband, the director of “Nope,” who plays a local arts expert delivering a dead-on spoof of Brad Pitt’s lofty speaking style.

“First Time Female Director” is a film that might not click with everyone. It’s offbeat and packed with in-jokes and a cast that feels like they’re all competing for the last laugh. Yet, it’s hard to overlook the boldness of Peretti’s directorial debut, which makes a splash right from the start. For those who tune into its wavelength, it’s a wild ride through the ups and downs of community theater, bursting with energy and a cheeky love for its own absurdity.

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