I want to take a moment to compose a few words about Teatro ZinZanni Seattle. I’d seen the oddly shaped building before, over near the Space Needle; and I’d heard this show/ meal/ event recommended — yet rarely described. In fact, the most common description of Teatro is “indescribable.” And I like a challenge, so here you go.
Teatro ZinZanni is a tiny quasi-steampunk Cirque du Soleil with a side order of Gallagher. And there’s food.
Last night Elaine and I caught the present entertainment installment, the “Suitcase Named Desire” routine. More of a running theme than a story, SND is the pseudo-saga of a magician and his puppet, a fairy queen and her maestro, a chef and his insecurities, a cat-girl and her hunt for happiness, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.
To make a long assessment short, it’s charmingly weird for the sake of being charmingly weird. Or to put it another way, it’s not very deep but it’s very, very pretty.
The first hour is probably the weakest, for all that it’s a suitable introduction populated with gifted singers. But once the train arrives, swirls through the room, and delivers the cadaverous magician and his entourage, things pick up significantly. By and large — at the risk of coming off like a cultural Philistine — SND is strongest when no one is talking or singing. The comedy routines are fair to middling but they take up a lot of time and they don’t really stand out; but when the acrobats/ dancers/ silent performers (including the magician himself) are on stage, SND is absolutely riveting.
I’ll be honest. I was sort of expecting a second-tier local-folks dinner theater. And I was totally, wholly, thoroughly incorrect. By the end of the night, I was no longer cringing over the fact that this event works out to be about $150 a plate.* I’m a firm believer in paying talented creative professionals what they’re worth, and if these performers are getting paid generously for their services — then call me a happy camper. Because they are extremely good.
Anyway. Outside the main theater arena there’s a small boutique filled with OMG TEH SHINY THANGS and I did not escape it unscathed. I found a very nice wool felt top hat that fits me like a crown and looks completely smashing … and if you think I won’t wear it out and around just for the sake of wearing a black top hat out and around, then you are sorely mistaken.
The wait staff members were superlative; the other random service professionals (folks with face paint, cashiers, bar staff) were all unfailingly polite and helpful, the small orchestra on-stage had impeccable comic timing, and the food wasn’t half bad either.
All in all, I recommend it most highly. Check the website for details.
* Hypothetically it’s only about $100, but drinks are ten bucks or more a pop (and I think there’s a 2-drink minimum? But I might be wrong about that.); and there’s an additional random ten dollar surcharge for every member of your party, plus downtown Seattle parking. Elaine** and I got inside for free due to vouchers she received from work; we only paid for our drinks and parking, so we got a pretty good deal.
** Who, contrary to popular belief, is not the same person as Ellen.