Teatro ZinZanni is as Hilarious and High-Flying as Ever in New Home

By Gavin Borchert

November 14, 2017

You can take Teatro out of Seattle, but you can't take the yodeling dominatrix out of Teatro.

Image Credit: 

Michael Doucett

I was sorry to see Teatro ZinZanni leave Lower Queen Anne, where it had sat since 2007, since it’s now a 30-minute drive rather than a seven-minute walk from my apartment. There are compensations, though, in its limited-run move to Marymoor Park, namely a grander, more spacious setting (walking up to the front door feels like just a bit more of an event) and ampler parking ($15).

The ornate, antique Spiegeltent is nearly the same, though they are no longer using the “Moulin Rouge” tent but the slightly more intimate “Palais Nostalgique”; more than ever, the aerial acts seem to fly directly over your head and table.

The current show, “Love, Chaos, and Dinner,” is a reprise of their first Seattle show from 1998 that set the foolproof template of comedy, circus acts, music (a bit-of-everything combo of classical, standards, and oldies-radio pop/rock), audience-participation skits, a little skin, a little naughtiness, and a four-course dinner. (Chef Jason Wilson designed this one, and its high point is dessert, a dense chocolate cake indulgently over-embellished with dark-cherry ganache and dulce de leche sauce and vanilla marshmallow topping and coconut.)

New to Seattle—among a cast that includes familiar favorites like yodeling dominatrix Manuela Horn, acrobat Domitil Aillot and aerialists Duo Madrona—is Ariana Savalas, flamboyantly charismatic and Dietrich-like as hostess Madame ZinZanni. As quick with a zinger as emcee Joe De Paul is (he makes this, in my recollection, probably TZ’s funniest show), it’d be great to hear him sing more—he has a Sinatra-flavored voice and a smooth way with a chestnut like “Fly Me to the Moon.”

Teatro ZinZanni’s general atmosphere of continental sophistication, Catskills corn and two-drinks-too-many loucheness survived the move and 20 years on—despite the local burgeoning of burlesque, cabaret and variety during that time—the show still feels special and unique, offering that sense of stepping into another world for three hours that has always been its draw.

Teatro ZinZanni, Marymoor Park, 6046 W. Lake Sammamish Pkwy. NE, Redmond; 206.802.0015; zinzanni.com/seattle. $99–$179. Runs Wed.–Sat. plus Tue. in December; ends April 29.


Entering a Period of Discovery