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Teatro ZinZanni 

This high-priced circus/cabaret/dinner show is overblown but entertaining

Wednesday, Jan 9 2002
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Starting at $99, tickets to Teatro ZinZanni cost more than tickets to The Producers. Granted, you need not book six months in advance nor buy a plane ticket to the East Coast to see ZinZanni, which makes it somewhat more convenient, but $99 is still a hefty chunk of change for the average theatergoer. That said, the long-running dinner-theater extravaganza is clearly not for the average theatergoer -- rather, it's for curious tourists, flush couples and families, and businessfolk looking for a fun night out. Subtitled "Love, Chaos and Dinner," the 3-1/2-hour spectacle combines Ringling Bros.-type clowning antics and Cirque du Soleil-like acrobatic acts with a five-course meal. The cast members, a talented lot who often double as waitstaff, perform intricate juggling feats, goofy comedy routines, and skilled acrobatic exploits, while the audience merrily drinks and eats. (The meal, which is expertly served, includes a delicious carrot soup, a roasted lamb entree, and a sinful chocolate dessert; the vegetarian dish is nothing to write home about, but few patrons seem to order it.) Despite the performers' high level of athleticism and apparent circus training, the show is more a cheesy comedy than a true circus, with a fair amount of giggling and pointing and innocent disrobing of embarrassed audience members. The sultry mistress of ceremonies, Madame ZinZanni (Doloreze Leonard), presides over an unusual collection of misfits, including oral pingpong-ball juggler Tim Tyler, rico suave chef Frank Ferrante, and mesmerizing muscle-boy/tap dancer Joe Orrach. ZinZanni can be a satisfyingly good time -- if you're one of the lucky ones who can still afford this kind of hoopla. More serious theatergoers, however, may be turned off by the overdone extravagance of this chichi cabaret, not to mention the price.

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Karen Macklin

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