TEATRO ZINZANNI has a new show at the Spiegeltent ZaZou in the Loop, and it’s the best edition of this circus cabaret dinner theater yet.
This time around, the formidable local musical theater actor Bethany Thomas and Kevin Kent (in full drag) take on the roles of hosts Madame Z and Doily. Thomas has a perennially magnetic stage presence that’s a welcome addition, and she showcases her powerhouse vocals to belt for days during the show. Kent understands how to play up the camp without being overly cheesy; he employs double entendres and puns in his act, but he doesn’t hit audiences over the head with slapstick. Cunio returns as well for this version of TEATRO ZINZANNI in the role of Phenix, Doily’s son (though that’s really not germane to anyone’s enjoyment of the variety show). He already demonstrated his high-energy presence and his mighty vocals last go-round, but now he’s added a remarkable aerial act in which he belts within an inch of his life while dangling upside down from the ceiling. Talk about a level up.
The circus acts remain dazzling and entertaining feats that combine immense physical work and artistic tableaus. Noel Aguilar has a classic devil sticks juggling act, while Michael Evolution showcases his unique talents as a basketball juggler. Both men understand the convention of progressing the tricks as the acts go on, a tradition that dates back to vaudeville. Marjorie Nantel gets bendy with her box contortion act, and she follows it up with a remarkable turn on the silks. Chicago’s Duo Rose Sylvia Friedman and Samuel Sion return with their beautiful trapeze act, which is a work of art and immense trust. Elena Gatilova closes out the night with her aerial hoop act, which is equal parts graceful and powerful.
TEATRO ZINZANNI offers up pure entertainment, killer vocals, and stunning circus acts, and I think the production has found the right mix in casting Thomas, Kent, and Cunio as the co-hosts for this edition. All three are genuinely entertaining performers, and Kent’s brand of humor seems a more natural fit for the show.
TEATRO ZINZANNI CHICAGO plays at the Spiegeltent ZaZou at the Cambria Hotel Chicago Loop, 32 West Randolph. Tickets are now on sale through August 14, 2022. Ticket prices range from $109-$264, with select show-only tickets available for $69. Visit Zinzanni.com/Chicago or BroadwayInChicago.com.
Photo Credit: Sandy Morris