A cast of hugely talented individual performers join together to keep a local radio station on the air. ZinZannity quickly ensues with dazzling music, dance, and acrobatic performances as magic blooms in the musical moonlight. Tune in for a nostalgic journey of music, cirque, and cabaret as Love, Chaos & Dinner “broadcasts live” from Teatro ZinZanni.
Teatro ZinZanni is part circus, part dinner theatre, and always magical. Described as “the Kit Kat Klub on acid” and “the hottest ticket in town” Teatro ZinZanni is an experience unlike any other. It is a three-hour whirlwind of international cirque, comedy, and European Cabaret all served up with a scrumptious five-course feast and elegant libations.
Each ever-evolving and constantly changing production — at least three new shows per year — Teatro ZinZanni combines improv comedy, vaudeville revue, music, dance, cirque, and sensuality into a dizzying and colorful new form that is never quite the same from evening to evening. Famous for its intimate setting, the fast-paced action of the show unfolds above, around and even alongside you as you dine on a gourmet meal. Teatro ZinZanni is guaranteed to dazzle.
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History of the Spiegeltent
To house Teatro ZinZanni, One Reel imported two beautiful antique theatres from Belgium and erected them in downtown Seattle and on San Francisco’s Embarcadero.
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 4,000 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.
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.
Origins & Artists
In 1992, Teatro ZinZanni’s creative director Norm Langill walked into a weather-beaten spiegeltent on a quiet Barcelona street, and fell in love. Inside that tent, anything was possible. Inside that tent, everything was possible: Feats of terrible strength! Manic antics! Beauty beyond belief! Art as dinner; dinner as art!
Langill found the Palais Nostalgique tent in Belgium and convinced the Klessens family to bring it to Seattle, Washington. Inspired by the great cabarets of Europe, he created a bold dinner show steeped in absurdity and spiked with a fresh sense of American comedy. From around the world, he brought in celebrated artists schooled in cirque, clowning, cabaret, aerial and balance artistry, magic, and illusions. From renowned celebrated Seattle restaurants, he brought in top chefs to create a five-course meal extraordinaire.
The first production opened in Seattle to rave reviews in 1998 and ran for fourteen soldout months. In March of 2000, Langill moved the Palais Nostalgique to San Francisco, where it continues to captivate audiences and break new artistic territory. Soon, he was on the hunt, looking for a second tent. He found the Moulin Rouge, a slightly older but no less elegant tent, again from the Klessens family. Inside this palace of mirrors and red velvet, he opened a second Teatro ZinZanni company in Seattle in 2002.
A night at Teatro ZinZanni is like no other. Think Fellini. Think Toulouse-Lautrec. Think remote-control dolls, stripper dwarves, human towers, contortionists heels over heads high above you, a Gray’s Anatomy of muscles on display, twelve feet away. Think opera and spectacle, chiffon and chain mail, flying men and floating women. “I tell people it’s the most fun you can have with your clothes on,” says Maria Muldaur, a divine diva in ZinZanni’s ever-rotating cast.
Everyone is in on the act, including the guests. A stern White Clown swoops up an audience member wearing a tiara and feather boa for a golden-oldies dance. A ribald Red Clown grabs an elder gent in tails: “Snow on the roof, fire in the furnace!” A drag queen with a cluster-bomb bosom drags a man center stage to dress him up like Little Bo Peep. In this alternative universe, there are edges, embraces, and always entertainment beyond compare. Teatro ZinZanni is one of the only places in the world where more than a dozen international performers of this caliber are featured nightly. The show has joined the ranks of famed European clubs such as the Wintergarten, The Apollo, and the Tigerpalast as a world-class showcase for the increasingly rare arts of the cirque.
WHAT: Teatro ZinZanni Circus Dinner Theater
WHEN: October 24, 2012 – February 17, 2013
WHERE: Segerstrom Center of the Arts| 600 Town Center Drive | Costa Mesa, CA 92626
DETAILS: Tickets start at $122.85
CONTACT INFO: (714) 556-2787
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