Friday, July 11, 2014

The new Zinzanni show is electric!

The Zinzanni cast (photo Mike Hipple)
When Sparks Fly
Through September 21, 2014

There is something electric going on at Teatro Zinzanni. Their new show, When Sparks Fly, is fun and fresh. It is definitely going to give a lift to those who have been to the amazing spiegeltent before. In fact, it’s magic!

The theme feels a bit like fusion from Rocky Horror Picture Show and Franken-lite. The Master (Voronin) conjures up a love for himself while the rest of his ensemble find love themselves. But first, as you get seated, The Accordion Player (Sergey Krutikov) serenades you, sometimes with violinist Tom Dziekonski. They make beautiful music together, and the sound is sent through the p.a. system, so you can sit anywhere in the tent and hear them.

Of course, anyone who has never gone to any of their shows will find themselves amazed and delighted. I’ve hoped that returnees could find just as good a time, going for fourth or fifth times. This iteration does have more of a surprising and delightful feel to it. Part of that is the inclusion of illusions that are definitely top-notch skull scratchers.

Kristin Clayton is garbed like Bride of Frankenstein and has a glorious operatic voice. Since she isn’t saddled with the old, more rigid, format of needing to be Madame Zinzanni, she can sing a song whenever she damn pleases, and sounds marvelous.

Joe De Paul starts out life in this sketch as a puppy-turned-man. He still does his classic reenactment of King Kong, which is hysterical if you’ve never seen it, and cute if you have.

Duo Madrona, that married trapeze act, still stuns, no matter how many times you see them. Rachel Nehmer plays a visiting Gates Foundation researcher, and Ben Wendel gets totally disguised as Junior Monster, maybe the Bride and Monster’s son? But their act is breathtaking, no matter how well they inhabit their sketch roles, which is very well indeed.

The cool factor of the evening is the magic. Maestro conjures himself a lover from puppet parts and Svetlana appears. And disappears. And appears again. The tent feels so intimate that it really becomes a “how did they do that” moment. It is understated and integrated into the storyline gracefully. It is not like anything I have seen as Zinzanni, and if this is the new direction, I’d love to see lots more.

Additional players are Elena Gatilova, Dreya Weber and Domitil Aillot. The live band always pleases, under the musical direction of Hans Teuber.


The food offerings seem a little more interesting, also, though the well-cooked halibut dish was woefully under seasoned. The wine flight was lighter this time, with many whites included, making it a refreshing change, as well. The pre-dinner Prosecco was buoyant. Regarding spicing, maybe the chef can consider two levels of choices: Punch and…. Judy? And patrons who like a little more height to their flavor could request and receive that.