Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Seattle

There's Magic in the Air When Sparks Fly
at Teatro Zinzanni

Also see David's review of Jane Eyre

The Cast
Fresh for the summer at Seattle's preeminent dinner and show experience Teatro Zinzanni is the well-named When Sparks Fly. Built around a variation of Frankenstein while incorporating enough other supernatural characters to fill an episode of Showtime's "Penny Dreadful," it is a fast paced and delightful combination of talents familiar and new to the Seattle Spiegeltent.

A naïve Gates foundation rep Miss Pleasant (Rachel Nehmer) has been sent to evaluate the spooky manor of a fellow known only as the the Count (played by masterful magician Voronin looking for all the world like Nosferatu). Denizens of the Count's domain include a hulking Frankensteinish monster named Junior and his bride Belle (Ben Wendel and Kristin Clayton), a bewitched cat and dog turned human (Elena Gatilova and Joe DePaul), a terrifying housekeeper (Dreya Weber) who could be kin to Cloris Leachman's immortal Frau Blucher, and another female creature (Svetlana) the Master has created as his own plaything. This bunch kicks off with a rousing "There's a Light Over at the Frankenstein Place" and, with a bit more storyline and characterization than many a TZ show, as well as the expected high production values, assures a festive evening.

Comic magician Voronin is also a masterful mime, and his tricks impress as much as his over the top supernatural performance, and Svetlana as his living puppet is engagingly odd. Weber goes from hatchet face to heartbreaker and her vocals are always top-notch. DePaul is a diminutive baggy pants comic in the grand tradition, and works the audience participants smoothly. Clayton uses her rich voice adeptly on all manner and style of songs, and Wendel and Nehmer who team as Duo Madrona thrill with their trapeze artistry.

The multi-course meal is amply satisfying, with vegetarian options, and the wines and cocktails are in abundance. Those who may have found a certain sameness in the Teatro ZinZanni shows are recommended to return to this effort, which mixes up new elements and favorites into a savory theatrical dish.

When Sparks Fly from Teatro Zinzanni runs through Sept 21, 2014, at 222 Mercer St. near Seattle Center runs through January 1, 2014. For full information go to For tickets or information contact the Teatro ZinZanni box office at 206-802-0015 or visit them online at

Photo: Mike Hipple

- David Edward Hughes

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