REDMOND — It was press night at Teatro ZinZanni, which moved its antique Belgian spiegeltent and circus dinner theater operation in October to Marymoor Park.
The staff of the show anxiously awaited the arrival of those reviewing the spectacle, especially a restaurant critic of world renown. The maitre d’ and his crew were willing to literally bend over backward to impress the audience.
Comedy, cirque, cabaret, a live music orchestra and a multi-course dinner, who could ask for more?
Well, it was press night when my husband and I attended earlier this month, but the famous critic is a character in the plot from Teatro ZinZanni’s original show, “Love, Chaos and Dinner.”
Teatro lost its lease earlier this year at its longtime location off Mercer Street across from the Seattle Center. Previous to that, founder Norm Langille (One Reel) directed the show in the east Belltown area. The company has yet to announce where it will set up the tent after the run at the park ends April 29.
It’s fun to drive through Marymoor at night and arrive at the fancy speigeltent, which is aptly nicknamed the Moulin Rouge. We downed a glass of bubbly in the lobby, admired all the people dressed in feather boas and top hats, and then were led to our table.
The evening was special for the young people at the adjacent table. Jeremy and Julie Bly Thake of Kirkland were celebrating their first night out since the birth of their daughter five months ago.
Julie, who grew up in Lake Stevens and graduated from Lake Stevens High School in 2002, loved her first Teatro outing.
“It’s a feast for the eyes, beautiful performances, soulful interaction — the perfect night out.”
The current menu from the James Beard Award-winning chef Jason Wilson includes a tasty appetizer of roasted pumpkin with fresh ricotta cheese, arugula, apple, croutons, shaved Parmesan and parsley pesto. The first course is a creamy white bean and rosemary soup with winter squash and mushroom gremolata, which was our favorite part of the meal. (You might want to order a basket of bread to go with it. Small extra charge.)
You can also order a flight of wine, generous pours paired with each course. Cocktails also are available.
The main course was a choice of a salmon filet with olive tapenade, cauliflower florets and puree; or braised short ribs with a cabernet demi-glace, roasted carrots and a horseradish pesto; or a vegetarian harvest tangine with curried carrots and other root vegetables, and quinoa with raisins, citrus and herbs. The dessert — Madame ZinZanni chocolate cake — was decadent chocolate with cherry compote and dulce de leche caramel sauce.
The dinner was great, but the acting, acrobatics and music were superb.
The orchestra includes talented jazz musicians Hans Teuber, Jose Martinez, Brad Gibson, Keith Lowe and Marina Albero.
We especially enjoyed the show’s director, Joe De Paul, who has been with Teatro for many years. De Paul has a singing voice that’s a poker chip shy of Frank Sinatra’s, but his witty physical comedy is worthy of silent film star. Using cardboard boxes, his fireplug body, a blond doll and paper airplanes launched from the audience, De Paul acts out the final scene from a classic silent film. Can you guess?
Volunteer actors from the audience were spectacular, too, and De Paul’s wit quickly worked with whatever responses came from the diners.
Other characters include the amazing French circus athlete Domitil Aillot, who plays the chef; the tall and talented Manuela Horn, known as the Austrian Amazon; chanteuse and comedienne Ariana Savalas; the Russian performance artist known as Svetlana, who plays the robot; and Ben Wendel, the security guy, and Rachel Nehmer, the janitor, who make up the local trapeze act Duo Madrona.
The maestro, the maitre d’, the magic master is Ukrainian-born illusionist Yevgeniy Voronin, who nearly steals the show at every turn. He’s been with Teatro since 1998.
Another favorite was the beautiful gymnast Elena Gatilova, a Cirque du Soleil alumna, who performed a mesmerizing dance on a suspended ring above the hushed crowd.
Even the servers are in the cast. And so, too, audience members should pretend they are part of the show. So dress up, drive to Redmond and pretend you are in a sexy Parisian cabaret.
Tickets start at $99, though you can check at Costco and other outlets for deals. Go online to zinzanni.com to learn more and order tickets, or call the box office at 206-802-0015.