Ticket Onsale Dates Released Plus Cast Announcement for the Limited Engagement Run at King County’s Marymoor Park
Cast features first-time ZinZanni performer Ariana Savalas — show-woman, Postmodern Jukebox songstress, and perhaps the Bette Midler of her time.
SEATTLE, Wash. (July 24, 2017) — Teatro ZinZanni Seattle is thrilled to announce a multi-talented, international cast of premier entertainers for its highly anticipated return limited engagement to the Northwest at King County’s beloved Marymoor Park. Led by first-time Madame ZinZanni Ariana Savalas, the company will also feature entertainment from comedian and show director Joe De Paul, local aerial trapeze favorites Duo Madrona, world-renown magician Maestro Voronin, contortionist-puppet Svetlana, yodeling dominatrix Manuela Horn, hoop aerialist Elena Gatilova, and Parisian acrobat Domitil Aillot. Tickets for groups of 12 or more are available starting today including access to performances in December. Passport Unlimited Members are the first to access tickets via an exclusive presale starting August 1 before single tickets are made available to the general public on August 15.
A singer, dancer, songwriter, comedienne, and professional pussycat, Ariana Savalas is an absolute showgirl who will seduce, surprise, and touch you – sometimes literally. After attending the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London, Savalas made her way to Los Angeles and became a member of Playhouse West, Jeff Goldblum’s repertory theatre, from whom she gleaned the art of combining the quirky and the alluring. She has travelled the world as a resident headliner for Postmodern Jukebox, performing in renowned venues like Radio City Music Hall, The Greek Theater, and the O2 Apollo in London. Ariana first graced the Teatro ZinZanni spiegeltent for a one-night show in 2017, and this production marks her first romp with Love, Chaos, and Dinner.
It’s been six years since Seattle has seen their favorite Austrian Amazon, the yodeling dominatrix Manuela Horn, perform in Radio Free Starlight inside the magical spiegletent. Known as a comedic force of nature, Manuela is a consummate professional, having earned her SAG membership for an appearance in the film RENT, made it to the semifinals of “America’s Got Talent,” and served as the headliner to the biggest Oktoberfest’s across America. Manuela is joined by the one and only Maestro Voronin (Hotel L’Amour, 2016), the Ukrainian-born illusionist The Seattle Times described as “both terrifying and flirtatious, both foil and hero at once.” Voronin is not only a world-class magician, but he is also an original Teatro ZinZanni cast member.
Seattleites may remember Domitil Aillot (Hollywood Nights, 2016) as one of three from the beloved acrobatic trio featured at ZinZanni for over a decade, Les Petits Frères. Domitil is a multi-faceted French artist who trained at the internationally renowned Annie Fratellini Circus School in Paris. Rhythmic gymnast turned aerial hoop performer Elena Gatilova (Hollywood Nights, 2016) has been seen in various productions all over the world including the recent international tour of Circus 1903 – The Golden Age of Circus, performed as part of Cirque du Soleil’s Zumanity, and this production marks her sixth collaboration with Teatro ZinZanni. Russian performance artist Svetlana (Hotel L’Amour, 2016) returns to the tent to perform her truly unique blend of contortion, modern dance, pantomime skills and magic in the creation of her sensational puppet act. Seattle’s favorite local aerial trapeze couple Ben Wendel and Rachel Nehmer of Duo Madrona (Welcome To Wonderland, 2016) returns to the tent and will perform their eye-popping duet some 20 feet up in the air!
This illustrious cast will be directed and joined by Canadian actor, writer, teacher, director, and clown, Joe De Paul (Be Italian!, 2016), famed for his unique brand of physical comedy. A veteran of numerous Cirque du Soleil productions, with extensive film and television credits to his name, Joe is a long-time ZinZanni collaborator and directed both Hollywood Nights and Welcome to Wonderland.
Group tickets for 12 or more are available by calling (206) 802-0013. Passport Unlimited Members are the first to access tickets via an exclusive presale starting August 1 at 10:00 a.m. through August 14. Beginning August 15 at 10:00 a.m., members of the general public will be able to purchase tickets via ZinZanni.com/Seattleor by phoning (206) 802-0015.
Teatro ZinZanni’s Beloved “Love, Chaos, and Dinner” Returns For A Limited Engagement At King County’s Marymoor Park
SEATTLE, Wash. (June 20, 2017) — With great excitement, Teatro ZinZanni today announced the highly anticipated return of their production of “Love, Chaos, and Dinner,” the beloved original show combining the best of cirque, cabaret, spectacle, live music, comedy, and fine dining. The iconic institution found an ideal location and perfect partner to present its truly one-of-a-kind experience at King County’s Marymoor Park near Redmond, Washington. Performances are scheduled to begin on Thursday, October 19, 2017 for a six-month engagement within the same stunning, velvet-laden, and iconic Belgian spiegeltent Seattleites will remember from Teatro ZinZanni’s former location on lower Queen Anne.
“We are thrilled to join forces with King County Parks as we make ourselves at home on the Eastside,” Norm Langill, company founder and artistic director commented. “They have established Marymoor Park as a first-class entertainment destination for the region providing a diverse array of spectacular live entertainment to residents within King County’s most scenic location. Furthermore, the Eastside has always represented a considerable part of our audience since we opened. I am delighted that this opportunity allows us to get a little closer to this wonderful community while remaining accessible to our Seattle fans. I can think of no better place to launch the next chapter of Teatro ZinZanni’s history.” “Hosting events like Teatro ZinZanni supports our arts community and creates significant economic benefits for local cities and businesses. We are delighted to partner with Teatro ZinZanni and bring its one-of-a-kind performance to Marymoor Park,” said King County Parks Director Kevin Brown. King County’s most popular park, more than 3 million people visit Marymoor annually to explore Marymoor’s 640 acres of recreational activities, rare amenities, and culturally-enriching events. Events such as Teatro ZinZanni, the Marymoor Park Concerts, and sports tournaments not only support the park system, they provide a direct benefit to the local economy by bringing in new dollars from outside of the area that spent on lodging, meals and incidentals in Eastside communities.
Since 1998, Teatro ZinZanni has captivated over one million audience members with its signature dinner show, featuring performance artists at the top of their craft from around the world. The work of Tommy Tune, Ann Wilson, Liliane Montevecchi, Joan Baez, amongst many others has graced the tent. More recently, Teatro ZinZanni’s popularity shows no signs of waning as 2016 represented one of its biggest years ever, performing to over 60,000 people and seeing a record breaking year in sales. Looking forward, the company is working on future plans to grow as an organization including continued efforts for securing a permanent home in the Seattle area. “Stay tuned,” Langill teases. “The best is yet to come for the most amazing and dedicated fans in the world.” Casting and ticket on sale information will be available in the coming weeks. For more information, visit zinzanni.com/seattle.
About Teatro ZinZanni
Teatro ZinZanni was founded in 1998 launching a wholly original new form of entertainment combining a unique fusion of cirque, comedy, cabaret, spectacle, and live music while serving up a multi-course feast. The show is presented in a gorgeous, climate-controlled, antique cabaret tent (known as a spiegeltent). Imported from Belgium, the spiegeltent is nicknamed the Moulin Rouge. Built in 1910, it boasts stained glass, hand-carved wooden interior columns, polished crystal and mirrors, and comfortably seats 285 people.
About King County Parks
King County Parks – Your Big Backyard – offers more than 200 parks and 28,000 acres of open space, including such regional treasures as Marymoor Park and Cougar Mountain Regional Wildland Park, 175 miles of regional trails, 215 miles of backcountry trails and a world-class aquatic center. By cultivating strong relationships with non-profit, corporate and community partners, King County Parks enhances park amenities while reducing costs.
For more information: Michelle S. Leyva, Michelle Sanders Communications firstname.lastname@example.org 206-595-1151
SEATTLE – A career in the circus arts is a job many in the profession choose early in life. But Ben Wendel and Rachel Nehmer took a more scientific path to performing.
“I went to school at Haverford college in Pennsylvania and I study biology there,” Said Wendel “And at Haverford is where I meet Rachel.”
“They specialized in molecular biology and I was always interested in neurodevelopment so that’s what I studied.” Said Nehmer.
After graduation, they both landed research jobs at the University of Washington – and came out west. But Nehmer had interests outside the lab.
“I had this trapeze that I gave to Ben. He carried it cross-country in the truck of his car. When I came and met him in Seattle we thought well why not try and find a place to hang it and you know maybe I could get back into it maybe it could be a way to meet people here in a new city. And It slowly but surely it took over our lives.” Said Nehmer.
They traded in their test tubes for the trapeze full-time in 2006 and became known as Duo Madrona.
“It’s two people on one trapeze. And a lot of people automatically picture a flying trapeze,” Said Nehmer. “But our trapeze is actually one trapeze that hangs straight up and down and we, just the two of us, are both on it.”
Like all the performers at Teatro ZinZanni, the couple does more than just their act.
“We create a character that’s part of a story that involves all the other artist in the ensemble,” Said Wendel. “Then our act at the end of the night is a culmination of our characters journey. We meet and sort of develop our relationship and our romance over the course of our act. And that’s all done in the language of dance and acrobatics and trust.”
Science may have brought these two together, but it’s the circus that keeps their love flying high.
“I get to share what I do with the person that I love, with my partner, that’s super-special.” Said Nehmer.
Lewis Carroll is transformed by an exceptional cabaret ensemble
By D. Scully
Posted October 21, 2016
In Teatro ZinZanni’s new show, Welcome to Wonderland, Lea Hinz (who plays the mysterious and alluring Caterpillar) walks around the stage pre-show doling out special concoctions and treats to the audience. She put something blue in my drink. It was consensual, but can I really be sure I saw what I saw?
Welcome to Wonderland uses Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass as its source material, mixing in cabaret, improv, the circus, a bit of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, and the mirror scene from the Marx Brothers’ comedy classic Duck Soup. But how much the blue drink influenced all the surrealness I cannot say.
When ZinZanni takes on Carroll, it’s not Alice who makes her way through Wonderland, but the unsuspecting couple Lewis and Carol, who arrive late to the show. They drink and nibble from the Caterpillar’s offerings, and this is where the madness begins. The pair meet the White Rabbit, who introduces them to the Queen of Hearts and her personal chef, the Mad Platter. Along the way, Lewis and Carol interact with the inhabitants of Wonderland as the audience looks on and, occasionally, becomes part of the action.
If you haven’t been to a Teatro ZinZanni show and you’re expecting to be a typical Seattle theatergoer and play a passive role, this isn’t the show for you. Even so, the cast seems to have an instinctual knack for knowing which audience members they should bring onstage to engage in the fun, banter with from the safety of their chairs, or leave alone.
If you have been to a Teatro show, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that not only does the cast gel as a tight comedic ensemble, each and every one of them breaks away and grab the spotlight at different points in the show.
Kevin Kent has always been a brilliant improviser, and he’s elevated the art of drag to make it his own. He adds a few characters to his bag of tricks, preeminently the Mad Platter, who also doubles as the head of the Queen of Hearts Resistance Army.
As the Queen of Hearts, Lady Rizo (aka Amelia Zirin-Brown) is a mind-blowing vocalist, tackling everything from “Go Ask Alice” to “Let’s Get It On” to “Killer Queen,” but she’s also a gifted comedian. It’s not easy to go toe-to-toe with Kent in the improv realm but she’s more than up to the task—she even succeeds in breaking him and others up on more than one occasion.
The engaging Joel Salom keeps the action moving as the Rabbit, when he’s not stopping to juggle egg shakers or his coat, or having an audience member undress him while he keeps juggling pins in the air. The Queen’s Guards (who display a Buster Keatonesque deadpan throughout) are played by Alevtyna Titarenko and Gael Ouisse. They skillfully soar through the air while juggling sundry objects (including one another) in a stunning bit of duo contortion.
Duo Madrona (Ben Wendel and Rachel Nehmer) play Wonderland’s protagonists, but they also deliver a show-stopping aerial act.
Lea Hinz sets the scene as the concoction-pushing Caterpillar; she’s also a breathtaking aerialist and hoop artist who breaks free from her cool and cold countenance to transform into a smiling and radiant butterfly. Her hoop act proves to be a surprisingly moving number in the middle of the evening madness. Nothing is what it seems, and it’s a pleasant surprise.
Shout-outs to the team that helped bring Welcome To Wonderland to life: Joe De Paul (director), Louise Dilenge (costumes), Nicholas Rayment (lighting), Rob Witmer (sound), Ariana Lallone (choreography) and Shauna Frazier (props and scenery).
And although this isn’t exactly a food critique, it must be said that each and every dish from the five-course menu almost steals the show. It’s served by a wait staff who show you to your seats, interact with the cast, and effortlessly bring dishes in and out between acts.
Now, I could tell you more, but like I said, I’m not sure if I saw what I saw, or whether it was a blue drink hallucination. I’m a little envious, though. One of my dining companions swallowed a blue pill Caterpillar offered him (without a prescription). Four hours later, I wonder how he’s doing? Curiouser and curiouser!
The Port Commission voted unanimously, 5–0, at its regular meeting yesterday toendorse a term sheet—basically, the amount and conditions of a lease—for Teatro ZinZanni, the circus dinner theater hoping to return to the waterfront. From here, the Board of Supervisors has to endorse it.
There has been widespread support to build the theater, along with a partner hotel and privately run public park, on Broadway at the Embarcadero. However, supporters and developers were surprised by a recent report from SF Planning that questioned several of the plan’s integral elements, including a gazebo containing the theater’s historic spiegeltent.
Ron Campbell in “Don Quixote” at Marin Shakespeare Company in San Rafael, Calif. (Photo by Lori A. Cheung)
To get a sense of the quirky and existential wit of Bay Area–based clown/actor Ron Campbell, consider his outgoing voicemail message: “Please listen to the entire menu, as some of your options may have dwindled. Some calls may be recorded so we can laugh at you later…For infinity press 8. You may dial or say the word ‘help’ at any time to be immediately connected to the vacuum of space…Please stay on the line. Godot is coming.”
Forget Godot. Campbell is a viable substitute. He shows up punctually for an interview at a Berkeley café, beaming, a slender, natty figure in beige linen vest and white shirt, with matching slacks, shoes, and fedora. He’s currently sporting a silvery goatee and mustache to play Don Quixote at Marin Shakespeare Company (“We don’t own our faces,” he jokes). His glasses dangle on a string, and his blue eyes are particularly piercing.
Campbell is often out of town. He toured the world as lead clown in Cirque du Soleil’s Kooza for five years, is playing the lead role (not for the first time) in the circus-y dinner theatre Teatro ZinZanni in Seattle (the new piece is Hollywood Nights, running Sept. 17–Jan. 31, 2016), will return to San Diego Repertory to reprise the role he created there (in 2000) in D.W. Jacobs’s tour-de-force solo show R. Buckminster Fuller: The History (and Mystery) of the Universe.
Yet just this season I’ve seen him in three wildly different roles in the Bay Area: at TheatreWorks on the Peninsula as an insanely batty Sherlock Holmes in The Hound of the Baskervilles; in the tiny role of the ancient waiter Alfie in Berkeley Rep’s coproduction (with South Coast Rep) of One Man, Two Guvnors, in which he tumbled down a flight of stairs several times—and in completely different ways both times I saw the show; and as the funniest, most poignant wannabe knight imaginable in Peter Anderson and Colin Heath’s comical Don Quixote: feeble, klutzy, half-masked, leaping over the laps of delighted audience members, an ever-hopeful smile on his face.
“What I loved about his performance was that it wasn’t about the clowning, it was about the story and the characters—nothing gratuitous,” says his Quixote director, Lesley Schisgall Currier. “It was about making sense of the character moment by moment in the circumstances the character is going through. He is never into taking the cheap laugh; he connected everything to the heart of the character. I think he’s always thinking about making choices that are not obvious.”
As a kid growing up in a half-Jewish family in Southern California, Campbell had a particularly funny uncle (not that kind of funny) who’d do goofy things, like announce the NFL games backward. “I learned a lot about comedy at that really formative stage,” Campbell says.
But he learned about drama early on, too. When he was 8 years old, his grandmother took him to Europe; in London they saw Richard Kiley in Man of La Mancha. “I went berserk when the character died and sang ‘The Impossible Dream,’” Campbell recalls. An usher took him and his grandmother backstage to prove that Kiley was alive and well. “That was resurrection to me,” he says. When he got home he started putting on plays with his brothers.
“I didn’t follow the academic path,” he continues. “I took to the streets.” In the late 1970s, after studying at UCLA and being “on the fringe of theatre,” he went to Europe. In Paris, a truck was unloading rags. “I saw these pants, much too big for me but with stirrups and zipper pockets that came way up to here, under my chest, and stretched to here,” he says, spreading his arms out. Suitably attired, he began performing mime and clown routines on the streets of Italy and France: in Piazza San Marco, the Piazza Navona, the Place Georges Pompidou. Okay, he thought, if I can do this, I can do anything.
Returning to Los Angeles in the 1980s, he reconnected with some of his old UCLA classmates and was a founding member of Tim Robbins’s Actors’ Gang. There and at the Los Angeles Theatre Center,San Diego Repertory, American Conservatory Theater, Seattle Rep, and elsewhere, he would play assorted roles, starting with plays by Sam Shepard and continuing on to Ionesco, Beckett, Shakespeare, and more, including a one-man version of A Tale of Two Cities in which he portrayed 28 characters. He has performed at the Royal Albert Hall, the Habima in Israel, and the Mark Taper Forum, to name just a few, and has won a raft of theatre awards.
It was taking on the challenging role of 20th-century theorist Buckminster Fuller in Jacobs’s two-hour monologue that eventually brought him to the Bay Area, where he wowed local critics and audiences with a complex character: brilliant mind, easygoing warmth, down-to-earth humor.
“I’d always perceived the play as a movement/dance piece,” says Jacobs, who also directed it. “Ron has a very powerful animal vitality in his movement and acting, which I thought was a good parallel to Bucky’s own intensity. I also saw the [character] as based on Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, Harold Lloyd—erect posture and bird-like attitude, which Ron has, and he also has a whole vocabulary of movement.”
Those movement skills are an essential part of Campbell’s tool kit. He started studying karate when he was 7 or 8—with Chuck Norris. He wanted to be a stuntman. In his 20s he discovered aikido, but when he injured his toe he took a seminar in iaido (a martial art involving swords) instead and was hooked.
“For me, it’s anti-acting,” he says. “It’s awareness without facial expressions.” In his iaido practice, he feels like he’s on a little vacation in feudal Japan. He works with a three-foot version of a sword, training to become proficient at drawing and cutting, and has the scars on his hands to prove it. “You have to be delicate and aware,” he says. “It’s all about the feet, and about maintaining certain postures and awareness. You get a sense of timing and space. There’s a wonderful quality of peace and a camaraderie that’s similar to what I get in the acting world.”
Some of his enchantment with martial arts spills over into the classes he teaches at his Soar Feat Studio, where he lives with his wife, floral designer Momoko Shimokado (they met five years ago when he was touring with Kooza in Japan; she came to see the show). The studio, in Emeryville, was once a cupcake factory—before that, a rubber factory—and was nothing more than a dirty warehouse with a concrete floor when Campbell first saw it. He turned it into a big, airy, industrial space with high, exposed wood beam ceilings; banks of high, small windows; a brick wall; a large bathroom with claw-foot tub (it used to be a ladies’ room and had two sinks and four toilets before he renovated it), and an open kitchen. (A black curtain separates part of the couple’s living area.) A bookshelf is stacked with hats: fedora, cowboy, derby. Commedia masks lie on a long table. There’s a skylight, and paper lanterns shading the ceiling lights; aikido mats cover the sprung floor of the main studio area, which he sometimes rents out to exercise classes or for auditions.
At a Monday night “actors’ jam,” about 25 students show up—it’s a three-hour drop-in class—plus observers. On his website, Campbell posts each week’s agenda. One week the theme was “mischief”; before that, it was “lovely maladies, paper obstacles, and curtain calls.” Campbell calls his classes “aerobics for the theatrical muscle” or “a jungle gym on the playground of your imagination.”
On the night I’m there, it’s the final class of 30 sessions before Campbell heads to Seattle, so after a few hours of varied exercises, the students pull together their material into little scenes. Everyone is barefoot. Campbell, in white yoga pants and a white T-shirt, never sits down; he’s always roaming the periphery of the mats or bounding onto them to interact with the actors, using each exercise to impart a little lesson.
A student tells me that Ron always finds something positive to say, and indeed, his comments are peppered with “Bravo!” and “Gorgeous!” and “Perfect!” He says other things, too: “Don’t talk, do!” “Uh-oh, clowns in trouble!” (That’s a good thing: “You having a problem is wonderfully compelling,” he says. “It’s like Houdini: Are they going to get out of this particular trap?”) “Find the emotion, but not from pushing it. Go about your business. Be a clown with a plan.”
He also says, “Too much character!” and “Find the opposite choice.” The students work on making entrances, on follow-the-leader variations, on Suzuki and Viewpoints-type movement; they use paper plates as eyeless masks.
“I try to be the cheerleader, the fan of people who are trying to do what we do,” he tells me later. “The other half of me is stern taskmaster—I bounce between those two extremes. Somewhere in the middle comes me: caring enough to put my heart into it.”
Strong words, but the classroom mood is entirely upbeat; Campbell’s energy and enthusiasm are infectious. In one exercise, he gives the students an impossible task: to make an entrance invisibly. As each one tries it, he says cheerfully, “Good, but that’s not it.”
“It’s not so much what they do but who they are between the attempts,” he explains. “Anger is a great motivator. Or they go inside, and depending on the actor, that can be very good or detrimental. The exercises are difficult on purpose. You don’t conquer them.”
He recalls a key lesson he learned from Kooza: He’d sometimes arrive at the tent early to find master juggler Anthony Gatto juggling 10 pins. “Sweat would be pouring down from him. In the show, in his big moment, he’s juggling 7—but he practiced at 150 percent. Which means he can be doing that amazing thing and connecting with the audience at the same time. No juggler can do that; their connection is with pins or hats—but he could wink at somebody in the fourth row! He had that kind of relaxation. I want my rehearsals to be really intense so when I get into the show I can hear the audience breathe and relax.”
That “ferocious commitment” to physical training has clearly paid off, declares Jacobs, who marvels that over the years, though he has aged, Campbell has learned more about how to use his body. “He’s less vulnerable to certain kinds of stresses and injuries than when he was younger,” avers Jacobs, who finds it odd to watch someone age 10 or 15 years and actually become a stronger physical specimen. “He went very deeply into iaido,” adds Jacobs, “and when he came back [to play Bucky again] he went through the material with very sword-like clarity.”
“There’s something about Ron’s own generosity, his own way of empathizing with people, and also the way he sees the uniqueness in everybody,” says San Diego Repertory associate artistic director Todd Salovey. “He’s able to create a simplicity of character that’s astonishing. When you work with him, you see how obsessed with detail he is.”
Salovey is developing a one-man version of the Yiddish folktale The Dybbuk, in which Campbell will play many characters, including a girl possessed by the spirit of her lover. He’s able to find the heart for all his characters simultaneously, and to shift seamlessly among them, marvels Salovey. “He’s meticulous about understanding and exploring what’s at stake for the character—the transformation, the vulnerability. That’s what makes each character so heartrending. Audiences relate to him the minute he walks onstage. And he recognizes how to lead an audience through a dramatic scene involving multiple people, and what he has to do to make the sequence, and also the conflicts of needs and perspectives, clear from one character to another.”
Campbell describes himself as largely an “outside-in” actor. “I often make two, just two, clean decisions, and then ride the character, not steer it,” he explains. He explains that the chin is one of his favorite body parts, so for the role of old Alfie in One Man, he chose the chin and the feet and allowed those two body parts to war with each other. “I made basic decisions about how I was going to move through space,” he elaborates. “I put my heels out, toes in [a classic pose], and let that infect the rest of me. It’s a better experience than just hunching over and playing old. For Don Quixote, I put my heels together and actually crossed them a little bit…and let my character develop from there.” (The spine is his second-favorite body part.)
Chins, spines, feet—and masks. Thanks to a fellowship, in 2009 he studied masks in Greece, Italy, and Japan, and now teaches acting with masks. The first time he worked with a mask, with Actors’ Gang, he hyperventilated; he couldn’t control his breathing and almost passed out. Since then he has learned about the power that a mask offers—it sculpts him, he says.
“You’re a servant to the mask just as you’re a servant to the text. You put on a mask and you follow it. It’s both deeply psychological and demandingly physical—if you get in the way of it, all of a sudden the mask doesn’t reveal. If you overplay under a mask, the mask goes dead.”
Musing on the relative marginality of theatre and stage artists, Campbell drily analogizes: “We’re dinosaurs wallowing around in the tarpit.” But he’s not planning to leave the stage any time soon: “We have these incredible advantages over film in that we’re breathing the same air as the audience.” Campbell loves to break the fourth wall—I’ve never seen an actor more comfortable with it—and says he likes to imagine breaking a fifth wall, too. To illustrate, he stares deeply into my eyes.
“Yes, I get stage fright,” he admits. “Always. Maybe it’s an addiction to adrenaline. That motor underneath, that do-or-die-ness—I want that.”
Jean Schiffman is a freelance theatre writer in San Francisco. Find the story at American Theatre.
At the regular meeting of the Port Commission on April 12th, more than a dozen people urged the body to accept a term sheet—basically, the amount and conditions of a lease—for Teatro ZinZanni, the circus dinner theater hoping to return to the waterfront along with a partner hotel and privately run public park. There was no public opposition.
Current view of site at the Embarcadero and Broadway. (Rendering: Hornberger + Worstell Architects)
Proposed hotel on site. Rendering: Hornberger + Worstell Architects
This was just an informational meeting; the commission will vote on it at its next meeting on April 26th. It did not address the recent flap with SF Planning, which questioned a number of elements of the project, most notably the use of the historic spiegeltent, which will be enclosed in a gazebo made of special bird-friendly glass. The report surprised both Teatro ZinZanni representatives and many neighbors, who have shown nearly unanimous support for the project in letters and at public hearings.
Rendering: Hornberger + Worstell Architects
The term sheet shows that the Port of San Francisco will earn more from the lease to Teatro ZinZanni and TZK, its hotel partner, than it does from the parking lot that’s at Embarcadero and Broadway now. The parking lease currently is projected to yield more than $14.2 million over the next 20 years if it remains, while Teatro ZinZanni’s base rent would be more than $17.1 million in the same span, with projected rent (due to “upside participation” by the Port) projected to exceed $29 million.
The parking lot proposed to become the new home of Teatro ZinZanni. (Photo: Geri Koeppel/Hoodline)
Following a brief presentation by Ricky Tijani, the Port’s development project manager, Teatro ZinZanni supporters during public comment urged the commission to OK the term sheet. They cited everything from the union jobs that the project would bring to the cultural and entertainment benefits for the neighborhood.
Teatro ZinZanni performer and opera singer Kristen Clayton gave an impassioned speech that mentioned the spiegeltent specifically. “There’s really nothing like the spiegeltent in the United States, and it belongs in San Francisco as a cultural icon,” she said. “As a performer, the interior is so inspiring and so connected to our show. It’s not something I can even imagine doing in a regular proscenium theater. It immediately transports our audiences into a luxurious world of velvet and lavish yesteryear, and they instinctively leave their troubles at the door, and time and time again, are carried away for our show’s three-hour presentation. Teatro ZinZanni is not your average night out in San Francisco, and our spiegeltent guarantees that unique experience.”
At the end, Commission President Willie Adams said he wishes more projects were like this, on the fast track with no opposition. “I think they have a world-class brand, and I’m very supportive of it,” he said. “I think this is going to be something new and amazing as we continue to transform our waterfront, and I’m glad they’re back.”
Welcome to Wonderland is bringing out the creativity of the cast, crew, and production team. From giant teacups, trap doors, life-sized pocket watches, and beautifully bedazzled costumes, the whole tent is really upping their creative game.
Our new show Hotel L’Amour features a full cast of divas! From our beloved Caesar, to magician Voronin, and movie star Liliane Montevecchi, the costume shop certainly has their work cut out for them. They are busy at work with fittings, bedazzling, and draping for the costume designs of Louise DiLenge. Show opens June 16th, we’ll see you there!
On Saturday morning, March 12th, Teatro ZinZanni will host an emergency preparedness event in reflection of the 5 year anniversary of the devastating 2011 northeastJapan earthquake and tsunami. The event is presented by the Japan America Society of the State of Washington (JASSW) with support from the Consulate General ofJapan, emergency preparedness experts and a number of businesses and organizations in Washington and Japan. Teatro ZinZanni and its founding company One Reel have partnered with the Society and many Japan-related organizations since the 1980’s, when One Reel produced a number of Japanese cultural events, from Family Fourth fireworks to a trilingual musical to national tours of Grand Kabuki Theatre.
On March 11, 2011, the northeastern coast of Japan was struck by a massive earthquake, followed by a devastating tsunami, resulting in almost unimaginable damage to large cities, a nuclear power plant, and dozens of small communities along the coast. In 1995 Seattle’s sister city of Kobe also suffered a great quake. After these disasters, many rushed in to help, but most impressive was the way that survivors came together to rebuild their communities and their lives. In the Pacific Northwest we are all aware of the risk of a large earthquake and possible tsunami. What will it be like? What will we do?
It was a Japan-related cultural that led to the creation of Teatro ZinZanni. In 1991, One Reel worked closely with Japanese company Furusato Caravan and its musical director Tateo Teramoto and his wife Mana Sofue to produce a trilingual rice farming musical. Many Seattle artists were involved, including Teatro ZinZanni keyboard player extraordinaire Marina Albero and Seattle Children’s Theater founder Linda Hartzell. The musical toured rice-farming areas in Japan and the United States, and then went on to Barcelona for the Olympics Arts Festival in 1992. It was there that founder Norm Langill saw a Spiegeltent –which in 1998 would become what Teatro ZinZanni is today.
After the tsunami in 2011, Tateo Teramoto and Mana Sofue worked with survivors of the disaster to create a musical about the shock of the disaster, their gratitude for the help they received, and the way they wanted to rebuild and reclaim both their traditions and their futures. They made a book and film about the musical: 100 Ways to Say Thank You. Teatro ZinZanni and the Japan America Society are proud to host Mr. Teramoto and Ms. Sofue to present a short version of the film during the March 12th event.
The event will help Seattle imagine what it would really be like to experience an earthquake/tsunami disaster on a large scale. We know we should prepare, but it’s hard to imagine it really happening. What would it be like? How could we respond? We also want to send words of comfort, admiration and thanks to those in Japan whose bravery inspires us.
This event is free to the public and will include speeches from Japanese dignitaries, emergency preparedness experts, along with a sing-a-long of a song from the musical with Mr Teramoto and Hans Teuber, director of the Teatro ZinZanni band. It will close with a number from the Winds of Hope chorus, sung every year since the disaster. We encourage you to join us to Remember, Repair and Prepare.
To house Teatro ZinZanni, two beautiful antique theatres from Belgium were imported and erected them in downtown Seattle.
Opulent palaces of red velvet and gold brocade, stained glass and deep mahogany, the European cabaret tents, known as spiegeltents (mirror tents), were constructed in the 1910s by renowned craftsman Willem Klessens. These warm, intimate circular theatres hosted dances, wine tastings, cabarets and celebrations in Europe for almost a century.
Each tent consists of over 4000 pieces. Designed to be erected and broken down in a hurry, Klessens’ spiegeltents require no metal fasteners for construction and can be assembled by a team of three or four in a single day. There are currently about one hundred of these remarkable structures in existence, and these two tents, San Francisco’s Palais Nostalgique and Seattle’s Moulin Rouge, are among the oldest in the Belgian collection. The tents are still owned by the Klessens family and Willem’s grandson, Willy Klessens (and his son Johnny). Together, they have been lovingly restoring and touring the tents since 1987. Willy traveled to Seattle and San Francisco with his son Johnny and brother-in-law Tom to oversee the construction of these tents for Teatro ZinZanni.
The Klessens outside a Belgian spiegeltent
Each of these gorgeous pavilions has a unique history. The Moulin Rouge in Seattle was nearly destroyed by the Nazis as retribution for a resistance force that blew up a bridge in advance of the Nazi approach. The Nazis burned the wood from the tent in a huge bonfire at the foot of the demolished ridge and smashed all the mirrors. While very little of the Moulin Rouge is original, San Francisco’s Palais Nostalgique was buried deep underground during WWII and made it through the conflict unscathed. Both century-old tents are still in fine form. They stand twenty-nine feet tall, with a circumference of 211 feet. They can comfortably accommodate 300 audience members, along with the waiters, clowns, singers, jugglers, trapeze artists, contortionists, musicians and acrobats who serve them.
We are so lucky to have former prima-ballerina as part of the ZinZanni family! Earlier this month Ariana and KUOW host Marcie Sillman spent the afternoon talking about ballet, transformations, and the future.
She may kill me for revealing her age, but what the heck?
Ariana Lallone is 47 years old, and she’s as striking and vibrant as she was the first time I saw her dance with Pacific Northwest Ballet 20 years ago.
If you’ve seen Ariana Lallone in performance, you know she’s unforgettable. She’s 5’11” in her stocking feet, 6’5” en pointe, with dark hair and a Roman nose. As Lady Capulet in Jean Christophe Maillot’s “Romeo et Juliette”, in Ulysses Dove’s “Red Angels”, or Nacho Duato’s “Jardi Tancat,” Lallone creates an unforgettable impression.
Lallone left PNB four years ago. She wasn’t necessarily ready to stop dancing;
“I felt like as long as I was learning, wanting to change, wanting to improve, that I still had a desire to keep going.”
But she and PNB Artistic Director Peter Boal didn’t see eye to eye on when Lallone should actually leave the company. She wanted to stay longer; he didn’t agree.
Lucky for her fans, Lallone had the world’s shortest jump from PNB to her next job at Seattle’s Teatro Zinzanni. Literally, she walked across the street and transformed herself from ballerina to cabaret performer.
Lallone didn’t even apply for the gig. She’d heard that Zinzanni’s Associate Artistic Director, Reenie Duff, wanted to talk to her about an upcoming show, “Bonsoir Lilliane,” choreographed by Broadway great Tommy Tune.
She remembers how that conversation was initiated. Lallone was double parking on Mercer, just outside PNB. Duff turned up at her car, and invited the ballerina to talk. Several hours of yakking later, Lallone’s second act was underway.
Teatro Zinzanni may be just across the street from McCaw Hall, where PNB performs, but the intimate velvet tent with its antique wooden floor and mirrored walls could be on another planet for all that these two performance venues resemble one another.
Photo by Angela Sterling
In McCaw Hall, PNB company members dance for up to 3,000 people. A large orchestra pit is located between the audience and the stage. If you have good seats down front, you can see the dancers’ faces. If not, well, opera glasses are always a good bet at McCaw.
In Zinzanni’s tent, Lallone finds herself on a 9 foot circular stage; she can look right into the eyes of the people who come to the dinner theater. And they can see her. She’s just inches away.
It was a challenge at first.
“I was a big mover,” she explains. “So you step out three feet from your center and it’s someone’s dinner table!”
But Lallone figured out how to use that proximity to good effect, how to make the eye contact and the intimate surroundings work for her.
And she learned that to use her ballet training in that small venue, she had to move her performance into another dimension: up into the air.
“I needed a new partner. And the new partner wouldn’t be a person, it would be a thing,” explains the dancer.
Specifically, a large metal hoop called a lyra. Lallone took aerial training lessons, and she performs regularly now up above the audience.
But Lallone isn’t part of the cast of this summer’s Zinzanni production, “The Return to Chaos.” The show actually marks her first solo foray into choreography. It’s an artistic path that surprised her.
Photo by Michael Doucett
“Choreography was always something (to which) I said No!” she laughs. “I had so many ‘nos’. No I don’t do this, no I can’t do this, in my brain. And all of those ‘nos’ have gone away.”
The last four years have been a whirlwind for Ariana Lallone. She’s learned new skills, but most of all, she says she’s learned to say yes.
“I had a single focus in my career, which was ballet.” Lallone pauses to think. “Walking across the street to Zinzanni, my world just opened up sideways.”
But even though you can take the dancer out of the ballet company, you can’t remove decades of ballet from the dancer.
“I’ll always be a ballerina,” says Lallone firmly. “I may branch out, but that will always be my ‘being.’
Fabulous entertainment from Teatro ZinZanni will make your fundraiser, company meeting or celebration the event of the year! ZinZanni is thrilled to launch our new offsite entertainment program! From top to bottom, beginning to end; we’ll help you create an event with performance elements customized for your corporate functions, holiday celebrations, fundraisers, and parties at the venue of your choosing! Any event of any size can be transformed with Teatro ZinZanni’s world-class circus performers, cabaret stars, gut-busting comedians, incredible musicians, dazzling costumes and more!
Our team will work closely with you to create the event of your dreams offering a wide range of options to fit your budget and your needs. Teatro ZinZanni has partnered with EnJoy Productions, a local leader in producing world-class events, to bring together unrivaled talent from around the world to you. Contact us now and let our imagination run wild for you!
Have Questions? Contact our Group Sales and Events Team at 206.802.0013
We’re hoping at this point you’ve seen our new TV spot and sizzle reel, the culmination of a 16 hour shoot and countless hours of pre -planning. We’re here to share some insight from our amazing video producers, VMG Studios 520, on the creation of this spectacular spot.
VMG Studios 520 and Teatro ZinZanni
Maybe you have seen this on air this month? It’s the Teatro ZinZanni commercial we produced with their amazingly talented performers. It has become one of our favorite videos in our ten-year history… Enjoy the spot and then read more of the details in the other stories.
Can you hear the wind?
Part of what makes the ZinZanni spot so creative is the use of audio. Our team spent a lot of effort coming up with just the right music, with a sense of mystery and a lot of space in it so that the voice over and sound effects could be blended in perfectly. Speaking of sound effects…do you hear the wind? How about the woodblock? And just how many times do you hear that wonderful laugh?? Play it a few times…watch it with your ears.
Glad you asked about how we shot the ZinZanni video. When you go about something this ambitious, your success depends upon planning (and then execution).
From the fine dining to the exciting acts and hilarious banter, the cast of The Hot Spot shines and the critics rave. You can catch the show at Teatro ZinZanni until June 7.
– “Lady Rizo is ahell of an addition to the Teatro Zinzanni lineup with her sex appeal, powerful voice and zany sense of humor.”
“The food is worth a special mention as well…The menu for this show, from a split pea soup with lime crème, to roasted pumpkin mascarpone ravioli, to passion fruit cheesecake, was both unusual and delicious.”- Edge Media Network
– “Teatro ZinZanni [is] a unique treasure that seems like a Disneyland for adults,” on the Huffington Post
– “The brilliant, wisecracking Frank Ferrante holds the show together as emcee extraordinaire…..with all the reasons to see this ZinZanni production, watching Ferrante in action is right at the top,” The Seattle Post-Intelligencer.
– “People walked out of the main tent and into the lobby after the show with smiles on their faces and a real sense of having experienced something unique and wonderful,” – The Examiner
– “The cast and crew of ‘The HotSpot’ create a warm and welcoming experience for the attendees, providing excellent service and entertainment that is sure to please,” UW Daily
Caesar had the chance to recreate Cocktail Time with Caesar live on air with KOMO Anchor Mary Nam and TZ Bar Czar Jamie Rizzo (plus a surprise appearance from Steve Poole!)
We also had the pleasure of having Lady Rizo and the Teatro ZinZanni band on Art Zone with Nancy Guppy. The piece was filmed at the wonderful Gage Academy of Art. You can see Lady Rizo perform at the 17:00 minute mark and the closing credits.
Beaumount and Caswell have drank all the mezcal, and Don Diego’s hacienda has closed up shop. We asked the cast to share some of their favorite memories during their time in Hacienda Holiday.
“I would say one of my favorite moments in the show was …waiting to see what “Buck” drew in the Cash and Lupita bit…as well as the improv response that followed. I also loved every night….standing at front of house with the entire cast bidding the audience “Buenos Noches”. This show has been so fun and I’m so grateful to have been a part of it.”
“One of my favorite moments from Hacienda Holiday was a buyout from Snoqualmie Casino. Our audience participant “Buck” was this great funny guy who had a very unique walk and arm gesture that resembled Popeye. So Kevin and I took advantage of this and copied his walk over and over again to the point to where we were laughing so hard I had to bend over and cross my legs. By the end of the night, everyone was walking like this guy and he left the tent a rockstar!”
But there’s never a dull moment around here. We’re putting down the tequila, and picking up the martinis! Tonight we open The Hot Spot, featuring the return of Chef Caesar and ZinZanni debut of Lady Rizo!
The talk of the town right now is all about the food in our current show Hacienda Holiday. Chef Erik has created an amazing menu with a south of the border zest, plus our bar manger Jamie has concocted perfectly paired Spanish wines and Mezcal flights for your tasting delights!
“And the meal? Best I’ve ever had at a ZinZanni show, from appetizer through dessert”
Duo Rose Trapeze made their Teatro ZinZanni premiere this fall in “Hacienda Holiday” and have been a delight to have in the tent. In order to get to know them a bit better, ZinZanni staff had the opportunity to do a Q&A with Duo Rose. From salmon fishing to baking delicious treats, we learned they are certainly making the most out of their time in Seattle!
What has been your favorite experience at ZinZanni?
Getting to know the cast and crew has been one of the best parts of working here. Getting to be a part of this family has been an absolute joy.
We had a great time in rehearsal with the cast. The process of building the show was a lot of fun stepping out of our comfort zone to sing and dance as well as speak on stage for the first time. (Not to mention that these were the first rehearsals in our entire career that have ever run on time…)
We have also enjoyed the response to our compulsive baking. According to the lovely Kevin Kent, I am the “Devil” for compromising his waistline.
Another, very special experience was going out fishing with Joe “The Godfather” Toro. We were lucky and caught the last two Salmon of the season.
How do you decide what music to use for your act?
We have used the same song for our entire career. We were listening to this artist for a while and when we heard that song we fell in love with it. From there we decided to build our routine around it. It’s Matthew Schoening’s “Emotional Clockwork”.
Where did you meet? How did your collaboration begin?
Samuel – We met seven years ago in Chicago. We had performed in the same Gala fundraiser for a local youth circus program. She was doing a group unicycle act and I was performing a Russian barre act at the event. I had seen her around the venue and was quite smitten with her but she didn’t even notice my existence.
We didn’t see each other again for about a year after the event until we met again by accident. At the time I was living at her contortion coaches house. Her coach, the world famous Oyunchimeg “Oyuna” Yadamjav, taught her Mongolian contortion classes from her living room in Skokie, IL. Oyuna called me one afternoon to ask if I could fill in for one of her classes and stretch the next person who walked through the door.
After an awkward and uncomfortable stretching session I mustered up the courage to invite her to a circus open gym. After several weeks of training we became a couple and worked to develop our current act.
What is the coolest venue you’ve performed in and why?
One of the most special venues we have had the chance to perform in was the Karl Marx theater in Havana, Cuba. We have the honor of being the first American Circus act to perform in Cuba since 1959. We were officially sanctioned by the US and Cuban governments to perform in the 9th International Circus festival CIRCUBA.
It was incredible to perform for the opening of the festival to a sold out house of more than 5,500 people packed well past capacity. The crowd was incredibly excited to see American artists, and was so enthusiastic that we couldn’t even hear our music the whole routine.
What is the most dangerous aerial trick you’ve attempted? Have you perfected it?
We have been playing with a “Skin the cat to feet”. It is a dangerous open rotation. We have not yet caught it and the bail is Sylvia landing on her head. Luckily we train through trial and error over a foam pit.
If you had to splurge on some not-so-healthy food……fried chicken or pizza?!
Samuel – Why not both? Sylvia is incredibly lucky and can eat whatever she pleases. I on the other hand keep to high waisted pants for my costume and pull up sessions after every show with our stage manager Stormy Edwards.
Sylvia- I usually choose sweets though. I can eat an obscene amount of chocolate.
If you have seen our newest show When Sparks Fly, you will know that the character of Maestro Voronin does not say a single word the entire evening. If you have not seen our newest show yet…oops. Okay, um spoiler alert above!
Though we never see him speak while in character, Voronin has to talk sometimes, and to help him when he is in America is journalist and translator Julia Ochs. Below Julia has answered some questions about here experience with both Teatro ZinZanni and what it feels like to watch Voronin perform. For those of you who have seen the show, she is spot on. If you still haven’t seen it WHY ARE YOU STILL READING THIS POST???
When and how did you first meet Norm Langill and Teatro ZinZanni?
My first visit to Teatro ZinZanni was a fortuitous event; I worked at the Russian World newspaper at that time and we had three comps for the Press night on May 27, 2010. The three people that were supposed to go were: the editor-in-chief Alex, his wife Anna, and a reporter Olga. That afternoon Anna was not feeling well and she offered me her ticket. So, I ended up at the show. Maestro’s Menagerie was my first dinner show ever. I had never seen that style of entertaining before. And even though I go to ballet, theater, opera, musicals and other shows pretty often, Teatro ZinZanni offered an experience so different and so unique, that all those other forms of entertainment immediately paled in comparison!
How would you describe the Maestro Voronin experience?
Watching Maestro Voronin perform is – quite literally – a magical experience. And it’s not just about his genius as a magician. His character charms, mesmerizes and hypnotizes you from the first moment you see him. There is something so familiar about him, as if some persona from the distant past is calling out to you; but at the same time he is so unique and peculiar, one could not find a single character to compare him to. One could describe Maestro Voronin as the essence of count Dracula, Casanova, and count Cagliostro; but in order to complete that image, one would also have to add Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton into the mix. Voronin’s combination of comedy and magic instantly wins over even the biggest skeptics. And the best part is – Maestro says it all without uttering a single word throughout the show. The fact that his character is a mute makes him transcend the limitations of languages, locations, and cultures. He’s got that universal appeal, which makes his audience fall in love with his art no matter in which part of the world he performs. Skillfully maintaining a very delicate balance on the edge of humor and seduction, funny and wise, inspiring thought and provoking laughter, he plays with your senses, and takes you outside of reality. He makes you wonder. He makes you believe. He makes you feel.The spiegeltent is like his very own lab, where he studies his guests and experiments to produce a formula of what makes us come alive.
Many people have asked us what to expect when they come to our late night show “Wake the Night”. Our team has decided that the best way we can explain to you the awesomeness that is this show is through the power of GIFS!
You and your friends make the decision to buy tickets to Wake the Night…
…And find out that it is only a $12 cover charge!
Getting ready for a normal Saturday night your preparation may look like this…
…but getting ready for a Teatro ZinZanni night out will look more like this!
You’ll feel many feels walking through the doors of Teatro…
…and then you’re given your first drink! LOOK OUT WORLD!
When the show starts you’re all like…
…and you may start dancing like you would a regular night out…
…but soon the power will overtake you and you will find yourself dancing like this!
Overall the dance floor feels like this!
Then 12 pack shows off his own 12 PACK!
You may even get chosen as a V.I.P.
Then the Muse of Midnight performs…
But all too soon, the night is over.
We will be honest, the next morning may look something like this…
But when asked if you will be there again next Saturday you will be like…
This show will not go on forever! Get your tickets now!
This month we are trying something new! For the first time ever our beloved lobby where you have donned feather boas and sparkly glasses will be involved in the Uptown Art Walk featuring the works of artist Javier S. Ortega.
Javier was born in Seville, Spain, where he attended “Escuela de Artes Aplicadas” and worked on the restoration of “Plaza España de Sevilla” giving him the opportunity to travel to Florence to continue his education in sculpture under the Leonardo Da Vinci Scholarship. Upon completion, his time was divided between the cities of Seville, Valencia, and the island of Menorca as he began having his first shows. After this, he moved to the city of Seattle where he continues his career exhibiting his work is some of the cafes and galleries scattered around the city Below are some examples of Javier’s work
And just as a teaser, here is one that is currently hanging in our lobby.
See you Wednesday, June 18!
For more event details, and to see the other venues involved in the walk, click here.
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