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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, October 18 2013 - Volume 41 Issue 42
Caesar: It's not just a salad anymore - Teatro ZinZanni goes Mediterranean with its latest show
Arts & Entertainment
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Caesar: It's not just a salad anymore - Teatro ZinZanni goes Mediterranean with its latest show

by Eric Andrews-Katz SGN A&E Writer

HAIL CAESAR! FORBIDDEN OASIS
TEATRO ZINZANNI
Through January 28


It would be hard to find anyone not familiar with the wonderful Teatro ZinZanni. For over a decade this part-dinner theater/part-circus has thrilled Seattleites and visitors alike with consistently fine entertainment as well as food. While the show changes every three to four months, the latest incarnation is titled Hail Caesar! Forbidden Oasis. With the usual fanfare of acrobats, performers, dancers, comedians, and other specialty acts, Teatro ZinZanni continues to delight all.

Arrive early to enjoy the ambiance of the performing space. People in feather boas or sequined outfits are present to welcome you to the evening's event. Enjoy a cocktail while waiting or peruse the gift shop, with a large collection of boas, masks, hats, and other fanciful items. When the doors open the host/hostess will direct you to your seat. Seating is usually 'family style' - you sit in a comfortable booth ready to meet new people or enjoy the company you are with. There are few if any bad seats to be had, since the action is mostly centered and moves about. The inner-circle seats on the floor are more expensive and offer a better chance of being picked to be part of the show, if that's your desire. The performances are enjoyable no matter where your line of vision may be.

SECRET LOVE SPICE
Frank Ferrante plays Caesar and does so with the comic timing that ZinZanni audiences have come to enjoy and appreciate. A veteran to several stages in Seattle, Ferrante has become a staple at ZinZanni bringing his style of humor and perfect timing to each performance. A mixture of all three Stooges and an adult quick wit for improvisation, Ferrante is excellent as the Emperor longing for his lost love, Cleopatra. Dreya Weber plays the great Lady of the Nile, Cleopatra. Also a veteran of the Teatro stage, Weber delights in her sultry singing and comic behavior. As holder of the secret 'Love Spice,' she plays with her beloved Caesar as much as with members of the audience.

A real-life married couple, the Dobas, play on the onstage comedy duo. Wayne Doba has been called 'a throwback to the old Vaudeville days' by the physical comic genius Donald O'Connor, and for good reason. He provides the perfect compliment to Andrea Conway Doba, whether he is performing physical schtick or allowing Mrs. Doba to perform graceful acrobatic movements on the chandelier high above the audience. Knowing how to perform with and riff off of each other, this couple provides wonderful humor throughout the evening.

The aerial ballet performers known as Duo Madrona make another appearance in the current show at Teatro. Ben Wendel plays Dr. Harrington, an Indiana Jones-type explorer searching for the Love Spice. Rachel Nehmer plays the club's secretary and announcer of sorts. After experiencing the Love Spice, the couple performs. Moving gracefully high above, this couple moves and dances using their only source of stability, a long rope, as an accessory. Moving up and down the rope with graceful ease is something beautiful and breathtaking to watch.

When it comes to actual physical comedy there are few that can compare with Les Petits Frères. This threesome of comic timing should be familiar to any longtime attendee of Teatro ZinZanni. These men have slapstick comedy down to a science and play off of each other so well that it's difficult not to get caught up in their routines. Leaping off and onto one another's shoulders until a human tower is formed and then tumbling into a continuous rolling wheel of flesh and bone are just some of the talents these men have perfected. Another recognizable persona is Vita Radionova, playing the human Sphinx. As a Hula-Hoop artist, Radionova twirls and spins up to 20 (if not more) hoops continuously around her body simultaneously. With the flash of sparkles and lighting, it is truly a beautiful sight to watch this contortionist spin her magic.

ALL THIS AND DINNER TOO
The serving (and eating) of the food is not only a production in itself, but it takes place throughout the entire performance. Ask your server for your favorite cocktail or try one of the house specialty drinks created for each show. The appetizer is a flaky dough pyramid with sweet onions, feta cheese, and roasted peppers, quickly followed by Egyptian yellow lentil soup with caraway cream, and an arugula salad with lemon-tarragon vinaigrette. The main course options include a vegetarian entrée, halibut with basil and fig chutney, or a Kurobuta pork chop with baked apple-mint sauce. No matter which you choose, your taste buds will thank you. An extra option further explores the menu with a warm fava bean spread served with pita chips or an assorted plate of Kalamata olives, Marcona almond stuffed dates, and saffron chickpeas. For dessert a peach, ricotta, and pecan slice of baklava is served, for the full Mediterranean experience.

For an enjoyable and all-inclusive evening out, there are few better options than Teatro ZinZanni. While the performances are, admittedly, variations on a theme, each show is catered individually and presented with perfection.

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