Gangsters of Love A Bang up Delight at Teatro ZinZanni
Also see David's review of Hedda Gabler
The play is really not the thing in this show, but what plot there is follows Caesar's loss of the tent to the romantic at heart Big Sam's rekindling of his romance with cabaret chanteuse Myrna, played by the intoxicating Dreya Weber. The loose script by Ferrante and Weber serves merely to move us through a multiple course meal, punctuated with engaging variety acts.
Stealing the spotlight throughout is Andrea Conway Doba as a Judy Holliday-esque dumb blonde named Mitzi who vies for the romantic favors of a sweet sad sack of an old-time vaudeville-eccentric dancer/comedian played by her real-life husband Wayne Doba, and a diminutive gangster and gangster played by the raffish Joe DePaul. Ferrante's Caesar goes after daunted but delighted audience members who suffer various comic indignities, Doba charms and touches with a "Mr. Bojangles" soft shoe, Weber vocalizes and shows off her acrobatic agility with equal panache, and DePaul offers a laugh-ridden low brow comic strip routine, while the Duo Madrona and Bernard Hazen offer the oohs and ahs one expects from Teatro ZinZanni's impressive novelty circus acts.
Veteran warbler Francine Reed dispenses old-school know how on her vocals, though without being too well integrated into the show, her interludes seem intrusive at times. Director Norm Langill rarely lets the action lag, and Orchestra DeVille under the skillful baton of Hans Teuber supports the vocalists and offers instrumental backup with equal zest.
Gangsters of Love runs at Teatro ZinZanni, 222 Mercer Street near seattle Center through September 30, 2012. For all performance and ticketing information go to www.dreams.ZinZanni.org