The Spirit of the Place: Christine Deaver Comes Home

To say that Christine Deaver is big hearted is a massive understatement. Teatro ZinZanni’s comedienne is as generous with her praise as she is with her laughter.

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Tall, well-built with a dusky voice and a hefty bosom, Christine’s gestures are delicate and light. Silky blonde hair peeks out from beneath her baseball cap.

Christine is itchy to get back into Teatro ZinZanni’s spiegeltent. She just arrived in Seattle on Monday night after the long slog of a drive up from LA.

“I’m really looking forward to having just one job for a while. It’s great to be home,” she declares. “In LA you’re always dodging fires or mudslides or earthquakes or O.J.”

A graduate of Ballard High School, Christine completed her undergraduate and graduate studies at the University of Washington, emerging from the Professional Actor Training Program in 1989. All along the way she was performing around town – at Seattle Rep, Seattle Children’s Theatre, The Group and ACT Theatre. She appeared in “Strike,” directed by Peggy Shannon, at the Empty Space Theatre when it was in Pioneer Square. For several years she appeared at the Cabaret at 111 Yesler, also in Pioneer Square, singing in Sh’Bop, a musical she wrote herself. “It’s as if Saturday Night Live did a 1950s show. Great music, excellent harmonies. I was joined by three great guys. We took that show all over the place, including Ashland.

“I left for LA right after I finished the PATP program. When I left, the Empty Space (may it rest in peace) was the limits of fringe theatre in Seattle. Now the place is crawling with small edgy companies. It’s great.”

Christine has been a member of LA’s Zoo District Theatre Company since 1998. “I love that stuff. It keeps me sane. Every day in LA is an artistic adventure. I do voice-over, film and TV work. I used to teach at a performing arts high school. It’s a constant hustle, LA is.”

Cast as the first female chef in Teatro ZinZanni in 2004, Christine took to the concept of busting through the fourth wall instantly. “I love the fact that audience’s participation is key to the whole success of the show. Choosing the right audience member is something I’m totally at home with. It’s a social study in a way. I choose people who send out a great vibe. Their body language and energy tells me everything. People think that by keeping their eyes on the tablecloth when I pass by they’re safe. That whole idea of no eye contact is a total myth!

“My intention is never to embarrass or humiliate people. If I pick you, it’s because there is something about you that’s unique and fun. The right person is the real star of the evening. When you succeed, then so do I.”

Paradoxically Christine does admit to some empathy for audience members who don’t want to be chosen.

Her last engagement with Teatro ZinZanni was in San Francisco. She and Kevin Kent (another Seattleite) created an all-new show entitled “Beaumont and Caswell.” Loosely based on the Lunt-Fontaine dynasty of 1930s Broadway, their characters were constantly bickering, upstaging, marrying and ultimately remarrying each other, using the audience as foils for their fights, flirtations and reunions.

“On a night off, Kevin and I decided to go see a show at the Berkeley Rep and as we sat down, we learned from the people next to us that the show involved quite a bit of audience participation. Since we had these great seats down front and on an aisle, I just knew we were easy marks. So we moved! So you see, I do have some empathy – somewhat.”

Christine’s characters are completely original. “I tend to develop characters from an outward-in approach. For instance, right now, I’m fascinated by women with big hair who wear ridiculously small barrettes. That image can spark a whole new character.

“My idea for “Voluptuous Panic” started out as a German performance artist type. I saw her as a little darker with a militaristic look, but not too traditional. Beaver Bauer, one of TZ’s two amazing costume designers, would meet me over lunch and start sketching as we talked. She is very open to creating collaboratively.

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“Penelope Wilde is a smoothie of Dame Edna, Madame Arkadi (a character from a Noel Coward play Blithe Spirit) and Mabel Albertson (from the film What’s Up, Doc?). I love the image of older women who wear clothes that are way too young for them, go go boots, mini-skirts for instance.

“When we created the Juliet character for the “Elizabethan Elim-i-date” sketch, I had just finished a play in LA where I played a 13-year-old brat called Little Eva. So I softened her up a little bit, had her trying to play Shakespeare. She’s kind of Lucy (from Peanuts) meets Shirley Temple. Juliet is a little bossy, she only plays on her terms.”

She describes her new role in “Hearts on Fire,” opening the new venue on November 28, as Titania meets Glinda the Good Witch. As the Good Fairy of ZinZanni, her mission is to help right the misfired love interests that are happening all over the tent. By the end of the evening everyone is paired up correctly. For the first time, she will not play the role of Chef.

“I’m really looking forward to working with Thelma [Houston] again. Thelma can really light up the audience. The entire cast is a dream.”

Now in her third year of performing in Teatro ZinZanni, Christine finds that she never tires of the show. “I recently saw the show in San Francisco and as audience member, I watch it with a sense of genuine awe and wow. I love watching real joy on people’s faces. And when I’m in the show, one of my favorite parts is visiting with people at their tables between acts.”

Besides reconnecting with family, Christine is looking forward to walking to work every day, undertaking a full exploration of Northwest wines, and seeing how Seattle has changed. “Seattle is a kinder, gentler city. It’s good to be home.”

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23 comments on “The Spirit of the Place: Christine Deaver Comes Home

  1. Tina Baxter says:

    Finally she is back!!! I have been a loyal audience member of TZ way back to when it first opened years ago. Christine is my favorite TZ performer and watching her on stage (or,should I say, in the tent) is truly a tour de force performance. She lights up the stage from the moment she enters. My father and brothers fight over who is her biggest fan. She is proof that a woman can be both funny and sexy. Can’t wait to see the new show!!

  2. Carson B. says:

    This girl rocks!!!! We went as a group for a work event and I swear I almost peed myself when she grabbed my co-worker and ran him thru the wringer. This guy at work never shuts up. He was so nervous being onstage with her as the dominatrix he was speechless. He couldn’t remember his name. We all pray for that to happen again.

  3. J. Fischer says:

    I can’t wait to see her in the show again. She is my favorite “chef”!!

  4. BigRed says:

    I saw this woman perform in this wild, avant garde show in L.A. a few years ago. There was a power outage in the middle of the show so she sang with a candle in the dark without the sound system. This chick has pipes and is a fierce vocalist. She brought the house down.

  5. HerWorstNightmare says:

    If anybody would like see high school pics of her, let me know. 😉

    Welcome back, Hollywood!

  6. Donald See says:

    I was picked as one of her “subjects of affection” shall we say that last time she was in the show. My wife has put the picture of that on our refridgerator and at least once a week teases me about my “girlfriend”. Wait til she finds out she’s coming back to town. My wife has a loooooooooooooong memory.

  7. Hoof Hearted says:

    It’s about time she got back! She knows how to work a crowd to a tantric edge and then POW; she hits you with the force of a Malibu wildfire….simply put;
    SHE REALLY DOES ROCK !

    WELCOME HOME!

  8. ME says:

    MY GOD, this show was ABSOLUTELY amazing, and this woman is a damn GENIUS!!! It was my first experience at the Teatro theater and me and my co-worker were in shock at how much fun we were having (seeing as this was a very different thing for us). I LOVED this show (seattle,Wa 27-Nov-07) and i will DEFINATELY be back again with my family! KUDOS to the entire cast and crew behind this show, 2 thumbs WAY WAY up!

  9. Tobias says:

    It’s official. I officially have a crush on this gal. She was the sexiest woman on stage that night. She rides in on that harley like she owns the place. We came with a group from work to celebrate our Christmas party. We now walk around the office quoting her lines from the show. I think I peed myself during Elizabethan Elimidate. Merry Christmas to you Teatro Zinzanni. You certainly made mine a festive one.

  10. Anewfan says:

    To be honest, I didn’t really want to go to this show. My boss had purchased tickets for our Christmas party. It was a long week at work and the last thing I wanted to do was hang out with my co-workers in some tent. Well, I stand corrected. It was the most amazing theatrical experience ever! I’m still buzzing about it and now purchasing tickets for my parents for their anniversary. I hope they get to experience the talents of Ms. Deaver. I can’t believe all her comedic and musical talent actually started in Ballard!! Who knew???

  11. 'Wild' Bill Jones says:

    My wife and I were in San Francisco for a Lahaina Galleries art show, “I Left My Art In San Francisco” which turned out to be very accurate. Christine ‘found me’ way in the back in a booth. I must tell you that it was quite wonderful being a participant in the show….SHE IS THE SHOW Christine has such a presence, she is larger than life and if you didn’t see her…you weren’t there. I left part of my heart in San Francisco and now that she is going to be in Seattle and I live in Tacoma, well, this IS a good thing. BIG hugs to you Christine, ‘Wild’ Bill

  12. tom wilkins says:

    When is she coming back!????? She’s my favorite chef of TZ! It’s been waaaaay to long. Bring back Christine!!!!!!

  13. Kallie Winters says:

    This woman makes me laugh until I pee! I just saw the new show tonight and my face still hurts from laughing. A talented actress, singer and improv artist. I think they call that a triple threat! I’m bringing my family for Christmas. Beaumount and Caswell puts the fun back in dysfunctional!

  14. Paula Warp says:

    Christine Deaver is a riot in this show!! I haven’t laughed so hard in a long time. The whole group was hilarious!!! I’d forgotten how funny she is and what a set of pipes! I loved Kevin Kent,too. He was priceless! Worth seeing again and again!! I’d say that even if we weren’t related!! 🙂

  15. Paul Reese says:

    Love her!!!

  16. Bob Gastin says:

    She’s simply fantastic! This last show was beyond great. We laughed until we hurt!

  17. Paula Warp says:

    So sad she is leaving ALREADY but happy for San Fran. What talent this whole bunch had, but especially the connection of performing between her and Kevin, it’s priceless!! We will most miss them all!!!!!

  18. Calen Lagoria says:

    I saw the Beaumount and Caswell show and almost wet my pants laughing. She gives new meaning to the term “over the top”. I hope this show comes back to Seattle soon. We may have to do a roadtrip to San Francisco to catch her down there. Love her! Love Zinzanni!

  19. Dianne L says:

    When is she back? We miss her! Our favorite character!

  20. Laura Burris says:

    Christine is amazingly talented! She really keeps the audience on their toes but does it with good humor. We saw the show Sept 5th with a large group, while visiting our actor son in Seattle. We had the time of our lives. My son was chosen to go upon stage, which was a special treat for us. He had a great time working with such a talented performer.

  21. Laura Burris says:

    Christine is amazingly talented! She really keeps the audience on their toes but does it with good humor. We saw the show Sept 5th with a large group, while visiting our actor son in Seattle. We had the time of our lives. My son was chosen to go up on stage, which was a special treat for us. He had a great time working with such a talented performer.

  22. Rae Smith says:

    My husband (Kimmy) was one of your love interests and completely enjoyed your attention. Now, your photo is prominently hanging on our wall for all to see. We thoroughly enjoyed all your acts.

  23. Curtis Nicholson says:

    Christine you are marvelous! A whole different and refreshing kind of romantic comedy. I thoroughly enjoyed playing your Romeo #2 and can’t wait to see the characters you create in the future! Thank you and the rest of the crew at TZ for a very memorable evening!

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