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Seattle by David-Edward Hughes

¡Caliente! at Teatro ZinZanni and
Cabaret Month

¡Caliente! Dishes up the Laughs at Teatro ZinZanni


Christine Deaver
Photo: Korum Bischoff
From the career spanning send-off to legendary diva Liliane Montevecchi in their last endeavor, to the spirited Spanish accented ribaldry of the current ¡Caliente!, Teatro ZinZanni remains the best over-all special occasion entertainment value in Seattle. The multi-course dining menu is hearty if variable (loved the steak on this visit) but the menu of entertainment remains, as Sondheim penned, "Something for everyone!"

The story this time? As directed with panache and zippy pacing by Ricardo Salinas, there's a hostile takeover of ZinZanni afoot with tall Texan-type wheeler dealer "Mr. Otis" (played by "Big Mike" Geier, the show's operatic basso profundo). He arrives to announce plans to plow down Teatro's Spiegeltent and build (just what Seattle is lacking!) a huge condo development to rise to the heights of the Space Needle, with funding from his moneyed and musical theatre loving producer, Mr. Ching (the rabidly talented and bubbly aerialist Ling Rui). But brother and sister buffoons, Cinco and Tres, played to the hilt by Robert Lopez (known to many in his other comic guise "El Vez") and Christine Deaver (a big boned gal with a voice to rival Merman), and the "kitchen staff" are determined to keep ZinZanni the way audiences love it.

That means that such favorites as the always amusing acrobatic trio Les Petit Frères, stunning and show-stopping Ukrainian contortionist/hula hoop artiste Vita Radionova, and dynamic dancer Ann Bernard are part of the plot to prevent the rise of the high rise, and sure enough, before long "Mr. Otis" is made up a la Pagliacci and the show seems destined to go on.

In-house choreographer Tobias Larsson, musical director Norman Durkee, and costume designer Louise Dilenge are ZinZanni veterans, who never lose the flair and spirit that this blend of dinner theatre mixed with Cirque du Soleil. Though ¡Caliente! is perhaps not the best of the four or five ZinZanni shows I have seen, it is still a worthy new effort and Teatro ZinZanni remains one of the best entertainment and dinner values in all of Seattle.

¡Caliente! runs through June 10, 2012 at Teatro ZinZanni 222 Mercer Street at 3rd Avenue North, near Seattle Center. For ticket prices, show times and other information go to www.dreams.zinzanni.org.


Life is Still a Cabaret in Seattle, Thanks to Pacific Northwest Cabaret Association

A Separate Peace
Judy Ann Moulton
Nationally, March is Cabaret Month, but the lack of cabaret venues active in Seattle has discouraged lots of Seattle's brightest talents. Luckily, MAC Award winner Arnaldo! Drag Chanteuse, who helped create the Pacific Northwest Cabaret Association, keeps the cabaret fires burning, and a few venues such as Egan's in Ballard and Julia's on Broadway are still happy to host these shows. Egan's hosted the two weekends of performances marking Cabaret month, and I attended an engaging quartet performance entitled Then & Now featuring veteran local actor singers Judy Ann Moulton, Marcus Wolland and Kim Maguire, with pianist/singer Victor Janusz, in which the artists showed ease with each other and had some savory solo moments. Moulton, who headlines the ongoing Judy Garland tribute show Judy Sings Judy bubbled through Styne, Comden and Green's "Comes Once in A Lifetime" and gave a heartfelt account of the haunting song by local composer/lyricist Susan Bardsley, "Tell Me Something Real." Wolland was effortless on another Styne number (lyric by Bob Merrill), "Doing it for Sugar," and stole the evening with the great comic number "The Best Ones" by the team of lyricist Susan DiLallo and composer Fred Thaler (from their new musical Sundays at Tiffany's), before offering a plaintive "Time Heals Everything" (from Jerry Herman's cult favorite Mack and Mabel). The sultry and soulful Maguire shone on the songs "Exit Right" and "Feels Like Home," while Janusz scored himself with his solo "Should I Ever Love Again?" as well as offering solid piano accompaniment.

Arnaldo, Jeanette D'Armand and several others filled the other slots in the Egan's outings, and Seattle is fortunate to have Pacific Northwest Cabaret Association and its affiliated artists to keep the American songbook from fading into a distant memory for night life lovers.



- David Edward Hughes



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