Saturday, August 13, 2011

Teatro ZinZanni: Maestro's Enchantment

Teatro ZinZanni is a three-plus hour experience that takes place in the softly lit, womb-like interior of an antique circus tent. The audience is fed a 5 course dinner & entertained by a theatrical combination of music, magic, clowning & acrobatics. The show changes every few months, so I saw a completely different set of acts & performers from last time. The featured star is Melanie Stace, a poised but unpresumptuous performer from British TV with a clear, belting singing voice. "The Maestro," a creepy, vampire-like magician, presides over the Felliniesque atmosphere & commands attention by not speaking. His companion, the contortionist Svetlana, is a mechanical doll brought to life.

The Collins Brothers
, 2 acrobatic clowns, perform a routine in which both vie for position on a single trapeze bar. Sergiy Krutikov, a clown & juggler, has a fine sense of showmanship & inspires affection. I want one of those boomerangs he made fly around the tent. Elena Gatilova silenced the audience with her enthralling & balletic aerial routine. Her costume is tasteful yet allows us to appreciate every contour of her form. The evening's 2nd singer, the operatic Kristin Clayton, ends the show with "Ebben? Ne Andrò Lontana." As one of my table companions pointed out, the acts & the meal service flow seamlessly together, & the evening has no apparent breaks.

The audience participates in a ZinZanni show, which was a worry considering my near miss last time. Thankfully pranks involving audience members are far less humiliating in this show, though I did receive a wet kiss on the top of my head from clown Peter Pitofsky.

ZinZanni has many repeat customers. I had the pleasure of sitting next to a father & his teenage daughter who are veterans of both the Seattle & San Francisco shows. They were celebrating the daughter's imminent departure for her 1st year of college. We had another show at our table as the doting dad presented his daughter with a steady stream of going-away gifts throughout the evening. The pair also received visits from the performers, culminating with one from The Maestro in which he transformed a piece of string into a gold charm bracelet for the young lady. By then the father had to admit he was friends with some of the cast, & afterward he even introduced me to The Maestro, who looked downright friendly out of his Count Dracula get-up. Father & daughter were the sweetest act in the show.

§ Maestro's Enchantment
Teatro ZinZanni

Directed by Norm Langill
Featuring: Melanie Stace, Voronin, Svetlana, Peter Pitofsky, The Collins Brothers, Elena Gatilova, Brandon Rabe, Sergiy Krutikov, Kristin Clayton

Now through October 9, 2011
Pier 29, San Francisco

§ Photo Credit: Tracy Martin

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