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Teatro's Bottega ZinZanni
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Teatro's Bottega ZinZanni

by Shaun Knittel - SGN Staff Writer

Bottega ZinZanni
Teatro ZinZanni
Through October 11


Teatro ZinZanni hosted the LGBT community July 15 for Pride Night with a special performance of Bottega ZinZanni: All Dressed Up With Some Place To Go. Pride Night featured tickets at a discount rate for LGBT customers and a fashion show, with 13 original Luly Yang Couture designs, as part of the performance. ZinZanni is a night of unforgettable international cirque, comedy, cabaret, and a five-course feast designed by celebrated Northwest chef Tom Douglas.

The ZinZanni program is always changing with productions that combine improv comedy, vaudeville revue, music, and dance with the action of the show unfolding above, around and alongside as you dine. Every employee is a part of the show - including your server, who, in between pouring cups of coffee, can be seen dancing to a musical comedy number.

Bottega ZinZanni, directed by Norm Langill with music direction by Norman Durkee, is dazzling. Following his meteoric rise and fall in the European fashion world, Caesar (Frank Ferrante), once clothier to the stars, has retreated to Seattle. He lures his former muse and lover, Liliane (Liliane Montevecchi), to witness his new life as a club owner. He convinces her to unveil her fall collection here instead of in Milan. She accepts his invitation and sets out to awaken the sleeping fashionistas of the Northwest.

The international cast is stellar. The legendary Tony Award-winner Liliane Montevecchi is spectacular in her role as the fashion forward Liliane. Frank Ferrante is the standout performer of Bottega ZinZanni. The American comedian is a master of ad-lib, delighting the audience with jokes as he picks audiences members to join him onstage, telling each one of them how gorgeous they are. Ferrante's Caesar stole the show scene after scene. Seattle's own Rachel DeShon is an amazing opera singer with a beautiful voice. The three French acrobats, Les Petits Freres, put a new spin on The Three Stooges with an amazing acrobatic fight, a comedy scene in which they throw each other (and a suitcase) around. Vita Radionova, a contortionist from Ukraine, is mesmerizing to watch. Whether performing a dance routine or a hula-hoop number, it is impossible to look away. Swiss acrobats Sam and Sandra perform a gravity-defying scene together.

The single best performance of the night, which kept the audience captivated, came when Chinese acrobats Ming and Rui became the talk of the tent, performing acrobatics suspended high above the audience. Their aerial straps act, which they've performed with Cirque du Soleil, has won acrobatic gold medals. What struck me most about the performance was that it was performed by two men in place of the normal man/woman teams. These two brought a particular sex-appeal to the show that was highly homoerotic.

Chef Tom Douglas' five-course menu did not disappoint. The appetizer of lemony thyme mascarpone on saffron toasts, festooned with Marcona almonds and slices of coppacola ham, is already placed when you are seated, followed by a perfect amount of minestrone. The avocado-themed salad is unique but very good. The main course consists of your choice of beef tenderloin, grilled halibut, or mushroom strata. I chose the beef tenderloin, which is slow-roasted to medium rare and served with sultry syrah jam, mashed potatoes, and crisp green beans. Tiramisu was for dessert.

Teatro ZinZanni is a great place to have a good meal and see a stellar and unique cast of entertainers. The dinner and show are presented in the elegant and beautiful antique Belgian spiegeltent. ZinZanni plays Wednesday through Sunday evenings at 222 Mercer Street in the heart of Seattle Center's Theatre District. For reservations, call (206) 802-0015 or visit www.dreams.zinzanni.org for more information.

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