May 27, 2002
Theatergoers should expect the unexpected at Teatro ZinZanni's 'Dinner & Dreams'
by Deborah Stone
Arts and Entertainment
Beg or borrow the money from friends or family. Take out a loan or neglect your child's orthodontia payment for a month.
Whatever it takes, go see Teatro ZinZanni's new production, "Dinner & Dreams," currently running in downtown Seattle at the former site of the venerable Frederick Cadillac on 6th & Battery streets.
An original creation of Northwest arts nonprofit One Reel, Teatro ZinZanni made its world premier in Seattle in the autumn of 1998 with its show, "Love, Chaos & Dinner," and enjoyed a 14-month sold out run before moving to San Francisco, where it is currently going into its third year of production at Pier 29 on The Embarcadero.
"Dinner & Dreams" opened in Seattle on April 1 and is once again wowing audiences with its unique blend of zany entertainment, a mix of American comedy, dance and theater with European cirque, cabaret, clowns and illusion artists.
The show is presented inside an authentic spiegeltent (mirror tent) imported from Belgium. Constructed in 1910, this pavilion is a magical venue, with its interior of sparkling mirrors, stained glass, carved wooden booths and velvet and gold brocade detailing.
There are currently only eight of these incredible structures in existence and this particular tent, named the "Moulin Rouge," is the oldest in the collection, owned by Willy Klessens of Belgium, grandson of the spiegeltent's inventor Willem Klessens. Guests are seated restaurant-style in this resplendent, yet intimate venue and the action of the show takes place throughout its circular structure.
At the center of it all is Mabel Dean (Seattle improv comedian Kevin Kent), the drag queen emcee with a flair for the dramatic and a fondness for embarrassing the males in the audience (all in good fun, of course).
A cast of quirky, memorable performers lend their amazing talents to the raucous production, including sensual, French contortionist Aurelia Cats; Russian hand-balancer Elena Borodina as Flora; tap-dancing vaudevillian Wayne Doba as El Dorado Dean (Mabel's fictional son); Canadian actress, dancer and acrobat Andrea Conway as MitziLu; El Vez, the sexy Mexican Elvis; soprano Nancy Emmerich as the Diva; the outstanding German comic aerialist duo Die Maiers as Head Waiter and Cleaning Lady; Austrian Manuela Horn as the towering Amazon Maitre She (and closet dominatrix); and Canadian comic duo Soizick Hebert and Johnny Filion as Teatro ZinZanni's beloved and wacky cooks who are responsible for introducing each course of the five-course meal (created by local Northwest chef Tom Douglas) served to guests.
Their various antics and bouts of mayhem precede the announcement of each delicious course sending forth a troop of waiters and characters with bowls of creamy asparagus soup, plates of spinach salads piled with curry coated cashews, entrees of roasted King salmon with merlot glaze, spring vegetables and beluga lentils (vegetarians can substitute the salmon for eggplant samosa) and tasty lemon meringue tarts with raspberry coulis.
Driving the show's action is the Orchestre de Ville, Teatro's live band (headed up by musical director Norm Durkee), which backs up the performers with a variety of music ranging from Puccini to Elvis Presley tunes.
Teatro ZinZanni's "Dinner & Dreams" is a complete theatrical, culinary and entertainment experience that combines beauty and elegance with absurdity and zany humor.
There's nothing else like it in town and it is proving to be this city's hottest ticket once again. For more information or to make reservations, call (206) 802-0015 or go to www.zinzanni.org.