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Hollywood Fringe 2014 experience Day One (part one)

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Since I arrived a day early in California so I could attend Alexis Keegan's show at WitZend on Friday night, I was able to squeeze in six shows on my first day at the 2014, better than ever, improved to perfection, Hollywood Fringe Festival.

My day began early with a 12 noon performance of the award-winning one-woman show, Burnt at the Steak, playing this weekend only in the Lounge 1 Theatre. Carolann Valentino is brilliant - she's witty, insanely Italian, beautiful . . . did I say witty? . . . and immensely talented.

Carolann's story was funny and real. She grew up an Italian in Texas - sorta like a fish out of water - before leaving Texas for New York to pursue her dream of being a Broadway star. Unfortunately for her she ended up working in a NYC steakhouse.

Carolann is a dynamo - she can sing, dance, write witty comedy and act - kinda like an Italian Kimleigh Smith! Her behind-the-scenes journey through her steakhouse job will either have you rolling in the aisles laughing or wanting to jump on stage and join in.

Carolann's characters (and she does 18) are truly believable and make you groan in recognition of people in your own life. But it is Carolann's drive to reach her dreams, spurred on my her psychotic (or is that psychic) mom's encouragement, that brings the show to life and gives the audience something to grab hold of in their own pursuits.

Carolann has come all the way out here to Hollywood for just five shows. Catch one of her last two shows today at 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. before she heads back to New York. Bring your appetite for laughter - I assure you that you will leave the show full and ready to tackle the world.

Next up was the return of one of my favorite characters from Fringe 2013 - Miss Fancy Jean Baker - in her new show, Fancy, Secrets from my Bootydoir, at the Three Clubs.

If they gave an award for the classiest establishment at the Fringe, that award would have to go to the Three Clubs. Allie White has transformed this seedy bar into a world class performance and drinking establishment. It was that type of atmosphere that propelled one of last year's shows, The Devil and Billy Markham, to soar above the rest. The club becomes part of the magic of the show, and cannot be separated.

Chris Farah has once again brought the lovable prostitute, made famous in the song Fancy which was written by Bobbie Gentry and sung by Reba, to breathtaking life. This show has all the right elements - a great concept brought to life through video, song, dialogue, improv and the force of nature that is Farah.

From the opening video which introduces us to Fancy's home and "office," Farah takes us on a witty rollercoaster ride to find the secrets to good sex. She strongly encourages interaction, and incorporates Twitter (@fancytheshow) into her Q&A with the audience. In fact, an audience member wins a nice prize from her sponsor The Pleasure Chest if their question is selected as the best.

Fancy once again sets the bar for Fringe shows. I strongly encourage you to spend some time in the company of Fancy Jean Baker - you won't regret it. You can catch the show June 15 at 8 p.m., June 20 at 6 p.m. and June 26 at 8 p.m.

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