Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Seattle

A Return to Paradise via Teatro ZinZanni

Also see David's reviews of My Fair Lady, 'Night Mother and The Addams Family

Christine Deaver
Though many (if not all) of Teatro ZinZanni's productions have not been site specific, allowing for productions in Teatro ZinZanni venues in both Seattle and San Francisco, the fall 2012 Seattle spectacular Return to Paradise is tailored to our fair city. With a whimsical time-travel framed tale, Return to Paradise is set at the Seattle World's Fair of 1962, specifically spoofing that fair's notoriously bawdy burlesque attraction "Paradise International," which entertained adult audiences nightly, while visions of Space Needles and futuristic scientific marvels danced in the sleeping heads of their kiddies.

Christine Deaver, the ample voiced, big-boned gal who has headlined past ZinZanni shows, assumes her best Sophie Tucker postures as the Paradise's emcee, Morton, Washington, native Gracie Hansen. Clarion voiced, comically bombastic Deaver holds the whole show in her hand, culminating in a "Hawaiian War Chant" production number that resembles Bette Midler taking over Disney's Enchanted Tiki Room. Elvis Presley shows up (he was at the fair filming his musical It Happened at the World's Fair) as well, and is given an earnest if not quite on the money impersonation by the tall and lanky "Big Mike" Geier, and vocalist Jen Ayers belts out '60s tunes with appropriate zip and zeal as songstress Linda Emery. Vertical Tango stars Sam Paine and Sandra Feusi double as cosmonaut Gherman Titov and Governor Dixy Lee Ray, and other featured dazzlers are Christopher Phi as Bruce Li, Rui Ling as financier Mr. Chin, Elena Gatilova (who also serves as Priscilla, the future Mrs. Presley), and Thaddeus Turner as an up and coming Jimi Hendrix. Director Norm Langill keeps the giddy goings on swiftly engaging, and several lovely ensemble ladies cavort in Galaxy Girl costumes and wigs, which approximate the heights of Jane Jetson chic.

The ZinZanni kitchen staff serves up an ample menu accommodating meat eaters and vegetarians alike, and features a well-stocked bar and worthy wine list. Teatro ZinZanni is still among the best bargains in town for a full four evening of food and frivolity.

Return to Paradise runs through January 27, 2013, at the Teatro ZinZanni Spiegeltent at 222 Box For Tickets call: (206) 802-0015 or online:

Photo: William Anthony

- David Edward Hughes

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