Teatro Zinzanni is Welcomed Back to Chicago

Spread the love

Step away from our troubled and divided world. Immerse yourself into a world of creative artistic performances that border on campy comedy, magical illusions, absurd behavior, jaw-dropping, heart-stopping aerial stunts, and loveable silly situations. Please treat yourself, your family, and your friends to an evening escape with “Chaos, Love, and Dinner,” a Teatro Zinzanni production. Teatro Zinzanni has triumphantly returned to Chicago and is suitably situated in the charming 1926 historic Ford Center for the Performing Arts Oriental Theatre created by architects Cornelius and George Rapp. This property is now the Broadway in Chicago Nederlander Theatre. The twenty-two-story luxury Cambria Hotel sits above the palatial theatre at 32 West Randolph in the center of the loop and theater district.

Aerialist Daniela Bim

The venue is within a 300-seat lavish Klessen Belgium Spiegeltent (Dutch for mirror tent). It is constructed of carved wood, canvas, and stained glass and exquisitely occupies the 14th Ballroom floor. Teatro Zinzanni Chicago has named their dramatic tent Zazou. They describe it as “a true marvel, tracing its heritage back to the artistic fervor of 1910. Each hand hand-carved detail and reflective surface whispers stories of performances that have captivated hearts for over a century. As you step inside, you’re transported into a world where history and contemporary entertainment unite.”

Michael van Beek (Michael Evolution)

 Have the Zinzanni gracious elevator host whisk you to the fourteenth floor to experience a magical, enchanting, fantastique evening. You will enter a rich realm of what has been described as European Cabaret, American Vaudeville ribald comedy, Cirque du Soleil style acrobatics, and P.T. Barnum Circus performances that delight and mesmerize. It is all this and more. The star performers interact with the audience. You become an integral part of this unparalleled entertainment production while dining on a multi-course sumptuous, gourmet dinner.

Ulzi Mergen Hand Balance

On the evening we were there, the prix-fixe menu included seasoned marinated olives with Publican Quality Bread Sourdough, a baby romaine salad with watermelon radish, fennel, croutons, and poppy vinaigrette. There were four entrees: chicken breast with vegetables, roasted pork shoulder with baby carrots, salmon with chili escabeche, marinated tomatoes, and a vegetarian falafel. The dessert was Turtle cheesecake topped with chocolate caramel candied walnuts. Everything was savory, generously portioned, and delicious. There was also a variety of appetizers that could be ordered for an extra price. There is a full bar with imaginative signature cocktails. The servers presented the courses in perfect time in an orchestrated precision procession. The last course, dessert, was delightfully danced in by the serving troupe.

Trapeze Artists Duo 19 Cassie Cutler and Oliver Parkinson

Understanding the origins of Teatro Zinzanni helps explain its extravagant multi-faceted genre. It began in 1972 with Seattle’s six spirited performers, a 1931 Model A Truck with a fold-down stage, and a mission to transform public places into extraordinary events as a non-profit artistic enterprise. They called themselves the One-Reel Vaudeville Show. Among the six were Norman Langill, an actor-writer, and Louise DiLenge, a cabaret singer. The two became the founders and leaders of this Hippie troupe. Soon, they expanded into an entertainment empire. One-Reel produced high-profile Seattle events such as the Bumbershoot Arts Festival, Family Fourth of July Fireworks Bash, and Seattle’s world-class 1990 Goodwill Games Arts Festival.

Cassie Cutler, Sa’Rayah, Carisa Hendrix as Lucy Darling

While visiting Spain for the 1992 Cultural Olympiad in Barcelona, Noman Langill presented his wife, Jane Corddry Langill’s commissioned Japanese Grand Kabuki Theatre. Jane is a Japanese scholar. Norman Langill would make a discovery that inspired Teatro Zinzanni. He wandered into a weather-beaten Spiegeltent on the famous tourist street Las Ramblas—the cabaret entertainment within led to his establishing the seemingly risky venture Teatro Zinzanni. Teatro is Spanish for theater. Zinzanni is a made-up name. I like to think of it in the best possible way as a zany, absurd, American vaudeville-like comedy nightclub. Teatro Zinzanni, with over a million shows, has proved wildly successful. It celebrated its 25th anniversary in Seattle this October.

Award Winning Magician Carisa Hendrix as Lucy Darling

Evening performances feature Sa’Rayah, a Chicago hometown favorite singer, as Madame Zinzanni and Matinee performances feature Tina Jenkins Crawley. Sa’Rayah opened the show with the apropos “Sweet Home Chicago” to an enthusiastic audience response. One of the many highlights of the show was when Darling and Sa’Rayah had the audience up on their feet dancing with partners while they brought a young glittering dressed girl from the audience onstage to dance with them. It was an adorable, sweet moment. Suave debonair Michael van Beek introduced himself as our maître d’, later performing as Michael Evolution, a world-class basketball freestyle juggler. He was amazing. His hands moved too fast for my human eye to follow. Lea Hinz is not only drop-dead gorgeous but a trapeze artist extraordinaire. Fast-talking Carisa Hendrix, as Lucy Darling, is an adept magician comedian who engages audience members in a give-and-take with her savvy wit. Cassie Cutler and Oliver Parkinson’s Duo 19 Trapeze Routine was enthralling despite making me squeamish. They were so powerful and seductive. Daniela Bim’s hair-raising stunts totally blew me away. All the performers are (AGT) America’s Got Talent worthy on steroids.

Lea Hinz Aerialist

Teatro Zinzanni Chicago has helpful hints on choosing seating and what to wear. Debra Bauer’s costume designs are brilliant and dazzling and add to the star power of this production. Discounted parking for Teatro Zinzanni is available at 181 North Dearborn Street Theater District Garage. Performances are scheduled from Thursdays to Sundays, October 5, 2023, through March 31, 2024. Tickets range from $119.00-$149.00 for October. For reservations, please call 312 488-0900 or Email: Chicago Teatro Zinzanni. For more information and tickets, see Teatro Tickets. If you plan on spending the night, the Cambria Hotel offers a 15% discount. Splurge on an overnighter to make the experience even more special.

Cassie Cutler Walking on Bottles

I have always wanted to visit Mr. Kelly’s Chicago Nightclub with its legendary jazz singers and comedians. Unfortunately, I have never had the opportunity since this 200-seat nightclub at 1028 N. Rush Street closed in 1975. The outstanding exceptional musicians Theodis Rodgers, Jr., Jose Martinez, Jon Negus, Phil Seed, and Chuck Webb recreated that Big Band sound of days gone by. Seeing Teatro Zinzanni’s “Love, Chaos and Dinner” has fulfilled my dream of a supper club night. The evening was Mr. Kelly’s, Copacabana, and more. I loved it! I left with a smile on my lips, a twinkle in my eye, and laughter in my heart and soul.

Entire Cast of “Love, Chaos, and Dinner”

Photos: Courtesy of Samuel Rose


1 Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.