All aboard a night of wonders at ‘Bonsoir Liliane’ | Review
By GABRIELLE NOMURA
Bellevue Reporter Staff Writer
Oct 04 2011
At first glance, it may seem like Teatro ZinZanni’s intimate, vintage circus tent might not be roomy enough for big leaps and pirouettes.
In reality, there’s a lot of movement under the cover of ZinZanni’s spiegeltent. The company’s newest show, “Bonsoir Liliane” centers around former prima ballerina Liliane Montevvechi and includes performer/choreographer Tobias Larsson and former Pacific Northwest Ballet dancer Ariana Lallone. Directed by Tony Award winner, Tommy Tune, the dance, music and theatrical elements come together to sweep audience members away on a “train of dreams” through Montevvechi’s fondest and boldest memories.
The leading lady, (who was knighted as a Dame in Malta) was a vision of glitter, femininity and sex appeal at age 79.
With Montevvechi’s “fondest and boldest memories” as a guide, audience members are transported through the ballet studios of Moscow, romantic Parisian landscapes, as well as the colorful, festive environment of Bombay. While the various locations are geographically scattered, the all-around lavishness of the whole show connects the dots.
And yes, that metaphorical train also includes a metaphorical dinner car, except with a real, five-course meal that will leave you needing a box. Vegetarian types like myself will love the hearty “Vol-au-vent”: Wild mushrooms, roasted peppers, green beans and roasted tomatoes sauteed with fresh herbs and parmesan cheese in a savory mushroom broth and served in light puff pastry dough sprinkled with smoked black pepper. Meat free, but incredibly flavorful and hearty.
It’s amazing how much a full belly and a glass of champagne enhances an already fantastical experience.
With performances by the talented dancers, a contortionist, acrobats (I SOL-ed – screamed out loud – when three men, stacked on top of each other’s shoulders, fell to the ground in a three-man chain, miraculously escaping a trip to the emergency room thanks to some serious tumbling skills) musicians (including “The Triplets of Bellevue”) and the unforgettable drag queen, Kevin Kent.
Kent, queen of sass, improvisation, comedy and audience participation, stole the show in his queen of hearts costume he was able to transfer with the miracle of velcro to a very patient, willing young man from the audience, who even let Kent dab some rouge on his cheeks.
When Kent’s mic that was fashioned to the side of his face blew out, he rolled with the punches, re-naming another audience member, Ken, “Mike Stand.” Needless to say, “Mike’s” job became following Kent around for the rest of his bit, holding a hand-held microphone in front of Kent’s face. Instead of a show malfunction, the mishap became one of the exciting elements of live theater that the audience felt like it was in on.
Unlike longtime Teatro ZinZanni performers such as Kent, Montevvechi and Larson there was a new-comer to the mix – Lallone, who’s pursuing a new career after 24 years with Pacific Northwest Ballet.
My aunt Elise, who I took as my date, and I were acting like starstruck nerds whenever we got a glance of Lallone’s striking profile and raven-black hair. At one point, the ballerina even came to our table and said, ‘Bonsoir.” Naturally, we almost lost it.
Having first watched her dance the Peacock in “Nutcracker” when I was in Kindergarten from the back of the old Seattle Opera house, it was beyond thrilling to see Lallone perform up close.
Known for both her exotic beauty as well as her more than 6-foot-tall stature in pointe shoes, Lallone was as smoldering as ever – whipping out soutenu turns in a red tutu on a small raised platform, showing off her grace and power.
But of course, getting to see my ballet idol was only one, in a long, delicious list of highlights from “Bonsoir Liliane,” which plays through the end of January. Wear a mask, maybe a feather boa or two, and grab a significant other or a family member. The $100-plus tickets are worth the splurge at least once (or maybe a couple times).