I must begin with the sheer delight of being back in a room with live performance inside the Spiegeltent Zazou at the Cambria Hotel on Randolph. The latest rendition of TEATRO ZINZANNI is the first production to reopen in the Loop following the pandemic shutdowns in March 2020. The energy is buzzing, and everyone involved in TEATRO ZINZANNI makes you feel it — down to every member of the staff. This edition of TEATRO ZINZANNI once again presents audiences with dinner theater entertainment, complete with a serviceable four-course meal and Goddess and the Baker owner Debbie Sharp’s latest menu.
This show has a vague plot involving Storm Marrero as a Cleopatra figure resurrected from her sarcophagus after thousands of years locked away, but it’s of little consequence. Instead, it’s more important to note that TEATRO ZINZANNI combines over-the-top slapstick acts, powerhouse vocals, and astonishing contortion and aerial acts in its variety show.
Frank Ferrante returns as the Caesar, the evening’s emcee and presumed chef. While Ferrante’s brand of comedy is not really to my taste, he is a fantastic improviser. His comedic chops are most evident when he interacts with the audience members he calls on stage as part of the show. He’s quick on his feet and those on-the-fly jokes are effective.
Overall, the slapstick acts don’t do much unless audience members are decided fans of that heightened, on-the-nose style of comedy. Joe De Paul, who also serves as the show’s co-director, is the Caesar’s right-hand man in slapstick. While De Paul’s commitment to his heightened and chaotic brand of comedy is admirable, I found him most enjoyable when he was performing Frank Sinatra’s “Fly Me to the Moon.” De Paul’s jazzy vocal stylings were a welcome and enjoyable surprise.
The vocal leads in TEATRO ZINZANNI are more dynamic and certainly welcome. Cunio and Storm Marrero are stunning vocalists. They bring down the house with renditions of classic songs such as “Don’t Stop Me Now,” “I Put A Spell On You,” “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds,” and Donna Summer’s “Last Dance” to end the evening.
By far the most astonishing and unique element of TEATRO ZINZANNI’s entertainment line-up are the aerial acts and other physical feats. Vita Radionova performs feats with hula hoops that you would never think would be possible. She also has a magical act with Mickael Bajazet that combines dance and incredible gymnastics. They’re an astounding pair.
Lea Hinz is a stunning aerialist, and her hoop act had me audibly gasping. She has immense artistry and makes her gravity-defying tricks seem effortless.
Duo 19 Cassie Cutler and Oliver Parkinson have a jaw-dropping aerial act. This is clearly a pair that has deep trust as they perform together on the high bar.
TEATRO ZINZANNI is unabashedly designed to entertain — and it’s at its best when it makes high-flying fun literal with the aerial acts on display. The entire evening exudes energy, and the buzz that comes from being reunited with live performance was palpable. After a year and half without that experience, this was a joyous welcome back.
TEATRO ZINZANNI plays an open run in the Spiegeltent Zazou at the Cambria Hotel, 32 West Randolph. Tickets for TEATRO ZINZANNI range from $119-$189 and include a four-course meal. Limited show-only tickets are also available for $69. Visit Zinzanni.com/Chicago for more ticket information.
Originally published on BroadwayWorld.com