Written by: Jay Irwin
One part circus, one part play, one part performance art and a dash of improv for good measure, put all that together and you have Teatro ZinZanni. And for those that have never seen a Teatro ZinZanni show before (as I was before the other night) you may be a little put off by the price tag. But remember this is a show AND dinner. And if their current show “Bonsoir Liliane!” is any indication, then it’s well worth it. A magical evening from beginning to end filled with hilarity, breath taking feats, and a sumptuous meal. What more could you ask for?
This incarnation of the show, “Bonsoir Liliane!“, directed by Broadway legend and Tony Award winner Tommy Tune, takes us on a thrilling train ride aboard Teatro ZinZanni’s Red Swan Express as we travel through Paris, Moscow and Bombay as well as the legendary Liliane Montevecchi’s memories as she takes us through the high points of her life. But it’s not so much just a nostalgia piece as it is a fully immersive experience that you won’t soon forget.
Montevecchi is, of course, sublime. Her grandeur and grace never wavers and even amidst the raucous and chaotic acts of the evening she manages a beautifully serene moment as she delivers a quiet and understated “clown” medley that almost had me in tears. But she is not the only brilliant performer for the evening. In fact, I would have to say they all qualify in this regard from the glorious Liliane all the way to our singing and dancing wait staff (who knew a soup course could be choreographed?). Pacific Northwest Ballet principal dancer Ariana Lallone delivers some lovely pieces and her flowing number in white was outstanding. Adding in some sweet sounds to the evening, Diva and the Dixies (Nancy Emmerich, Dixie Jo Henson and Dixie Lu Sims) kept our toes a tapping as we were served. And adding even more beauty to the sounds (and I don’t just mean his voice) Tobias Larsson is on hand as Lilianne’s sexy leading man. Contortionist Vita Radionova astounded as she danced, contorted and hula hooped (you heard me) her way through the evening. And the trio of clowns, Les Petits Frères (Domitil Aillot, Gregory Marquet and Mickael Bajazet) had us rolling in our chairs with laughter and cringing at their amazing acrobatic feats. The three of them managed to literally defy gravity whether they effortlessly climbed up poles or each other or hysterically tried to fix a high light as they shimmied up a ladder that no one and nothing was supporting.
And speaking of hilarity, I must give a special mention to Kevin Kent, our conductor, emcee, and all around driving force of the show. From train conductor to goddess, from Queen to lothario (and those two were within the same scene), Kent had the entire restaurant in tears. Whether from his outrageous antics with the patrons, or simply perfect comedic timing, he kept the room in stitches and in the palm of his hand. He even managed to make a couple of technical gaffs entertaining and look completely planned (and I’m still not entirely certain they weren’t).
With absolutely stunning costumes by Giuseppe Grazioli and housed in ZinZanni’s magnificent Spiegeltent and you have enough charm and ambience for 20 shows. And to top it all of a delicious meal. Some “dinner theater” places may give you a good show but the food is usually under par. But ZinZanni’s fare can really only be described as YUMMY! So this former Teatro ZinZanni virgin can’t wait to go back and experience what they have to offer again. And for those theater goers that have wandered past there on your way to the Seattle Center or the other theaters around there and thought, “I wonder what it’s like in there. Is it worth it?” The answer is a resounding YES!
“Bonsoir Liliane!” performs at Teatro ZinZanni through January 29th, 2012. For tickets or information contact the Teatro ZinZanni box office at 206-802-0015 or visit them online at www.dreams.zinzanni.org.
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