|Oakland Tribune - June 13, 2010
Housed in a century-old European show tent, Teatro ZinZanni blends hometown cuisine with entertainers from around the world to offer a unique brand of entertainment that may include a contortionist with your salad and a trapeze artist with the main course.
It offers a controlled sort of insanity to the beat of an amazingly talented band. For first-time visitors, the wild antics of the staff seems like the mere act of serving food could end in a giant human collision. It doesn't. Even the waiters are choreographed and part of the show. In fact, it's difficult to tell who is a featured entertainer and who is on the wait staff.
Many entertainers from Europe take great delight in playing both waiter and members of incidental skits that fill the scant space between acts and food service. That waiter who keeps dropping things, or the maintenance man who can't screw in a light bulb without help, may end up doing wild acrobatics just inches from where you are eating.
The current show, which runs through Aug. 15 features Caesar (Frank Ferrante) a familiar character to ZinZanni, who has changed his spots a bit he is still a chef, but he also now plays a failed fashionista and is back at the tent to launch it as a new, hip club. He convinces his one-time muse and lover, Liliane (Liliane Montevecchi), to introduce her fall fashion collection at the club. Liliane and Caesar are wildly funny in the roles, which include many performers switching from a high-fashion strut on the runway to their act.
Most memorable is the transition of Vita Radionova, wrapped in dozens of yards of satin to create her dress. The costume unwinds as she makes her way down the runway as her act morphs into a hula-hoop number, and finally one of the most amazing contortionist acts going.
Details: The show is performed in the tent at The Embarcadero and Battery Street at the foot of Battery. Tickets are $117 for Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday, $136 for Friday and $145 for Saturday; performances are at 6:55 p.m. Wednesdays-Saturdays and 5:55 p.m. Sundays. Doors open an hour before show time, and it's wise to arrive early to give yourself time to browse the velvet, curtained lobby and bar. Reservations: 415-438-2668 or love.zinzanni.org. Children younger than 5 are not admitted, and with a three-hour time for dinner and the show, parents might reconsider the wisdom of bringing kids.