Vancouver Fringe Fest review: Burnt At the Steak offers food for thought

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      Don’t let the cheesy title and poster put you off: Carolann Valentino’s true story of her job managing a fancy Manhattan steakhouse is a winner. The charismatic Valentino plays 18 characters, including a bimbo hostess who tosses her hair so violently she risks whiplash, a pelvic-thrusting maître d’, and a sloshed businessman. She repurposes familiar songs to hilarious effect: “Do Re Mi” teaches trainee servers the degrees of doneness; “Moon River”—well, I won’t spoil that surprise. Valentino’s vocal and physical characterizations are huge, but detailed and distinct, and her virtuosity is breathtaking—at one point, she performs both parts of a song-and-dance duet. But Valentino’s strength is also her weakness: she can’t resist adding more characters than the show needs, so it loses focus. Still, it’s rare to find a show this well done.

      At Performance Works on September 7 (8:30 p.m.), 8 (4:30 p.m.), 9 (1 p.m.), 10 (8:15 p.m.), 13 (10:25 p.m.), and 15 (7:15 p.m.).

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