Burnt At the Steak: Grade ‘A’ Theatre

Meaghan Flaherty

                Beginning with high energy country music and ending with possibly the best curtain call I’ve ever seen from a one-man show, Burnt at the Steak, written and performed by Carolann Valentino, tells the story of her experience managing a multimillion dollar steak house in NYC while trying to be a professional actor. Funny, truthful, and very engaging, Burnt At the Steak is the perfect show for anyone looking for a good time and the chance for self-reflection. That grand entrance sets the audience up perfectly for the spirited performance they’re about to witness.

After moving from Texas to NYC, Valentino finds herself torn between following her dream, and her responsibilities as a manager with a high paying job. The story is told through music and Valentino’s expert ability to portray the various people she meets in the restaurant as a customer or co-worker. Some of these characters include but are certainly not limited to: her “Psychic Italian Mother”, her co-managers, the ditsy hostess, a drunk, a British woman with an aversion to undergarments, and many more. The greatest thing about these characters, however, is how unique each and every one is. They are so vastly different from one another in voice, body language, and general mood that you can tell as an audience member, before Valentino even speaks, that the character is different and who it is if you’ve seen it before. There was not a character I disliked, as they were all so very funny and interesting to watch.

The music portion was wonderful. I’m not the biggest fan of pre-recorded music in a musical, though I understand that at the Fringe it is a necessity. Similarly, I found Valentino’s mic to be a touch loud, but then found this was necessary because of the soundtrack. That being said, after a few numbers, I completely forgave Valentino for the pre-recorded soundtrack because it was a pleasure to hear her sing. It is clear this is what she has been trained to do, and her intensity levels in volume and emotion as well as pitch are all perfect. She is also able to sing as her many characters without falling into the improper singers’ habit of simply playing herself in song. Even during the musical numbers the distinction in character is evident.

Overall I loved this show. It is incredibly funny, entertaining, and well executed; definitely a must-see this year.

Written and performed by Carolann Valentino

Playing in Academic Hall

June 24th              9:30 PM

June 27th              6:30 PM

June 28th              10 PM