Opening Nights: Bonsoir Liliane!
Teatro ZinZanni salutes a legendary star’s career, from MGM to LQA.
By Erika Hobart
Wednesday, Oct 12 2011
If your significant other has a wandering eye, leave him (or her) at home. Teatro ZinZanni’s cabaret-style homage to singer/actress/dancer Liliane Montevecchi, who celebrates her 79th birthday this week, could be its sexiest production ever. At the center of this three-and-a-half-hour spectacle, which recounts her long, illustrious career (accompanied by a five-course feast), she may be its most alluring performer.
Born in France and subsequently a contract player at MGM (where she supported Brando, Elvis, and Astaire), Montevecchi remains a magnetic force on stage. (Given that her legs still look flawless, she either has a pact with the devil or drinks the blood of virgins.) Playing the younger version of Montevecchi is former Pacific Northwest Ballet star Ariana Lallone, whose dancing en pointe is both stunning and painful to watch. Rounding out the so-attractive-it’s-creepy ensemble are Ukranian contortionist Vita Radionova, whose moves make the Kama Sutra look tame, and Swedish singer/dancer/acrobat Tobias Larsson, who looks like he belongs in a Calvin Klein underwear ad. (Swoon.)
Coming from a company that prides itself on kookiness, of course, Bonsoir Liliane! would be incomplete without silly antics. Enter improv master Kevin Kent, unquestionably TZZ’s most popular performer, who provides plenty of laughs by poking fun at willing (and unwilling) audience members. During a recent show, he shrieked at a group of bald men, “I want to rub all of you together and start a fire!” To a guest embarrassed by the unsolicited attention, he quipped, “You’re like the prom queen at 4 a.m. going home to Daddy.” Upping the outrageousness is Parisian acrobatic trio Les Petits Frères, which combines slapstick with gravity-defying stunts.
The whole glittery shebang is directed by Tommy Tune, who helped Montevecchi dance her way to a Tony in the original Broadway production of Nine. That, if you’re counting, was 29 years ago. Today her legs would make most 29-year-old women envious.