Bonsoir Liliane! is a Tune Full Evening of Cabaret Charisma at Teatro ZinZanni
by David-Edward Hughes
Broadway director/choreographer and star Tommy Tune, too long away from the Great White Way, is far from complacent, as Bonsoir Liliane!, his sparkling showcase for legendary singer/dancer/chanteuse Liliane Montevecchi, in for a fall/early winter run at Teatro ZinZanni amply demonstrates. The ZinZanni formula, mixing theatre, cabaret, ballet and circus, suits the multifaceted Director Tune and his star. He whips together an altogether diverting evening (and throws in a dash of Will Rogers Follies-like staging in the opening number), while at eighty, Liliane could easily pass for someone two decades her junior, and she is more radiant than ever in her return to Teatro ZinZanni. Why shouldn’t she be? This time the production is a train ride through memories of her own lustrous life.
There seem to be fewer individual acts than in past Teatro ZinZanni efforts I have attended, but I found this a plus, as the show is less of a spectacular hodgepodge and more coherent and focused overall. Liliane is clearly the main focus of attention and, though not as spry as ever, is probably the best eighty-year-old dancer you’ll ever see. As for her wispy, throaty singing voice, I defy anyone not to be enormously affected by her very individual and soulful takes on Sondheim’s “Send in the Clowns,” Herman’s “I Don’t Want to Know,” Aznavour’s “There Is a Time,” “La Vie En Rose,” and even a brief fragment of her own Nine showstopper “Folies Bergere.” And Miss Montevecchi needs all the star-powered wattage she has going for her, as her principal co-star Kevin Kent is the type of performer that easily earns the title “Clown Prince” (or should that be, given his androgynous nature, Princess?). At the performance I attended, Kent was at his considerable best with an initially retiring gent from the audience who allowed a femme royale garbed Kent to transform him into a lady of the court (easily the best sport of an audience member/victim I have ever seen). Kent became the dashing, hero saving the “damsel” in a comic sword fight with the show’s comic trio, Les Petits Frères (Domitil Aillot, Gregory Marquet and Mickael Bajazet). In his other guises as train conductor and emcee, Kent is a commanding, even towering talent, and earns every bravo one can muster.
The aforementioned Les Petits Frères, a Teatro ZinZanni mainstay, never outwear their stay as they dazzle with their finely honed comic acrobatics. Pacific Northwest Ballet principal dancer Ariana Lallone is in fine radiant form, especially in a piece in which she appears in billowing white gown. Vita Radionova, a fine female contortionist is quite amazing, and oh can that girl hula hoop! Tobias Larsson, known as “the Tommy Tune of Sweden,” is a tall, dashing leading man opposite the divine Montevecchi (and deserves bravos in his capacity as the show’s choreographer). If there is a weak point in the show, one might point to Diva and the Dixies, a pleasant enough female trio (Nancy Emmerich, Dixie Jo Henson and Dixie Lu Sims) who sing as courses are being served, but lack material to “wow” us. Yet they do not detract in any significant way either, and believe me, if you have never eaten a rich and robust ZinZanni meal, your mind will be on the menu and not on the musical maidens.
Opulent and eye dazzling costumes by Giuseppe Grazioli abound, Musical Director Norman Durkee and his band are as bouncy and brassy as ever, and the ZinZanni Spiegeltent remains as bedazzling as ever. Yes, the cost of the tickets seems pricey but not for a great show and a great dinner (and discounts are to be found). What are you waiting for? Say hello to Bonsoir Liliane! now!
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