The glittering indoor Spiegeltent ZaZou has unveiled another entertainment confection for downtown Chicago audiences: TEATRO ZINZANNI has now morphed into CABARET ZAZOU. The latest edition, CABARET ZAZOU’s LUMINAIRE, once again combines powerhouse vocals, breathtaking aerial acts, and a little bit of slapstick comedy for over two hours of dinner theater fun.
Frank Ferrante again returns as host for LUMINAIRE in the role of Forte, supposedly a hotel bell clerk filling in for his uncle. While Forte introduces some vague plot points about a lost love and a central theme of the “feast of forgiveness,” the show has mostly done away with the concept of a narrative. While previous iterations have tried hard to impose a story onto the show, director and writer Dreya Weber’s LUMINAIRE has just enough material to connect the various acts without overdoing it. Luminarie shines the most when it embraces its identity as a variety show and lets the dazzling acts speak for themselves.
LiV Warfield and James Harkness deliver entertaining vocals throughout the evening; Warfield and Harkness have moments where they take center stage and also provide accompaniment for some of the acts. Warfield has a true powerhouse belt that allows her to lay into hits like Gnarls Barkley’s “Crazy,” and Harkness has a lighter and appealing tone that lends itself well especially to his rendition of Silk Sonic’s “Smoking Out the Window.”
The variety show acts are terrific for LUMINAIRE. Ulzii Mergen emerges quite literally like a rabbit out of a hat to perform a contortionist act that truly meets the magic trick gimmick; her level of flexibility is astounding, and she has a graceful air about her as she performs jaw-dropping feats of contortion. Viktor Kee lends a sense of intensity to his juggling act; he’s not your typical playful juggler, but rather takes his art deeply seriously. Trio Vertex—Cornelius Atkinson, Isis Clegg-Vinell, and Nathan Price—are easily the showpiece of LUMINAIRE. Early in the evening, Price and Clegg-Vinell perform a roller skating act that’s both upbeat and breathtaking. At the end of the show, the trio perform an aerial act that’s death-defying, beautiful, and seamless. It’s truly the centerpiece of the show, and it’s absolutely astounding. In terms of programming, I only wish that this act had closed out the show; instead, Kee’s juggling closes out the evening. While his act is impressive, closing out with Trio Vertex would have allowed LUMINAIRE structurally to end on its highest and most dazzling note.
If you’re looking for an evening of live performance that focuses on pure entertainment with some one-of-a-kind and stellar variety acts, LUMINAIRE is the ticket.
CABARET ZAZOU’S LUMINAIRE is now playing in the Spiegeltent ZaZou on the 14th floor of Hotel Cambria, 32 West Randolph. Tickets are $125-$210 with VIP tickets available. Visit Cabaretzazou.com.
Production photos courtesy of Broadway In Chicago