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Teatro ZinZanni offers a daring evening of dinner and dance
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Teatro ZinZanni offers a daring evening of dinner and dance

by Eric Andrews-Katz - SGN Contributing Writer

License to Kiss
Teatro ZinZanni
Through April 25


Teatro ZinZanni has become a permanent part of Seattle's theater community. Described as 'the Moulin Rouge meeting Cirque du Soleil,' this rotating source of entertainment has provided Seattle (and San Francisco) patrons with a full night of 'love, chaos and dinner.'

The current production is entitled License to Kiss and plays through April 25, 2010. The story unfolds as the quest for the ultimate sweet dessert begins. Mr. C (played by the brilliant Kevin Kent) realizes that the greatest chocolate in the world (Higgs Boson Chocolate) has been stolen, and now he is hot on the elusive heels of the person(s) who stole it. Everyone is a suspect, including the aerial acrobatic waitress-in-training (Andrea Conway Doba), the comic, scary-looking Maitre D´(Lutz Jope), the German songstress (Kari Podgorski) and the vaudeville comedic waiter (Wayne Doba), but not even the acrobatic handyman (Sam Payne), the host (Tobias Larsson) or the "Cherry Fairy" (Sabine Hettlich) are above suspicion for the confectionary theft. As the night goes on, the audience is treated to perfectly timed humor, daring aerial acts of acrobatics, and an evening of good food.

The married team of Andrea and Wayne Doba are great masters of comic timing. They mingle with each other and the audience, combining juggling, acrobatics and high wire balancing. Andrea's antics as she maneuvers herself in and out of a chandelier are nothing short of a balletic dance. Never once losing her squeaky voice or breaking character, she slides and twirls through and around the spokes of the hanging light structure. Her grace never falters, and neither does our attention.

The singing voice of Kari Podgorsky is clear and beautiful. She belts out songs as she performs in a sensual aerial act. Playing the diva role, Kari does a fun caricature of a German songstress looking for her next love. Her song leads its way into a dream fantasy of a life-size teddy bear dancing on a high wire that is truly beautiful to watch.

Kevin Kent makes another appearance as the main star of Teatro ZinZanni's production. Going from concealed German spy to flamboyantly dressed Queen of Hearts comes as easily to him as his gift for comic timing and impromptu situations. Playing to the audience, he caresses and coos at members sitting around him, causing a multitude of blushes to occur for a variety of reasons. He knows which men in the audience to choose for his center-stage participation, and which women to select that will go along with the gags.

In the kitchen, celebrated Northwest chef Tom Douglas prepares the menu consisting of a five-course meal: antipasto, soup, salad, main course, and dessert. The antipasto consisted of crunchy toasts with tapenade made from black olives and figs, a nice balance of sweet 'n' salty. The soup was a wonderful creamy carrot parsnip. Always a little hesitant of creamy vegetable soups, I found this part of the meal to be absolutely delicious.

The main course selections are beef, halibut or a vegetarian option of mushroom strata. The beef tenderloin was cooked to perfection, served medium rare unless otherwise requested. As a side dish, mashed potatoes and green beans were served. The dessert was a meal in itself. The quasar cake is much like a black forest, with rich chocolate and cherries embedded in the velvety goodness. It is rich, and between the dessert, the coffee I had following, and the entertainment of the evening, I was buzzing with delight for a while afterwards.

Teatro ZinZanni began in Seattle in 1998. Originally located in Lower Queen Anne, it moved in 2002 to the Belltown district of Seattle. Within a short time, the production moved to its permanent location at 222 Mercer St. Another Teatro opened in San Francisco's Embarcadero (Pier 29) on the waterfront, which helps add to the rotation of shows every four months. Guest star performers have included Joan Baez, Ann Wilson, Sally Kellerman and Tony Award-winner Liliane Montevecchi, among others.

Teatro ZinZanni is an ever-changing production that combines the sensuality of singing, dancing, acrobatics, improv, comic acts and above all, an entertaining evening that is never the same twice. Held within a tent that was imported especially from Belgium for the troupe, the show plays to a capacity of 285 people, and since it is performed in the round, every seat has full opportunity for viewing the show. Break out your boas, bangles and beads and become, a part of Teatro ZinZanni.

Playing January 2 through November 30, Teatro ZinZanni performs Thursday through Sundays with selected Wednesdays and certain Sunday brunch performances added in to the schedule. For further information, contact the Teatro ZinZanni box office at (206) 802-0015.

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