Teatro ZinZanni's 'Love, Chaos & Dinner' a gastro-theatrical treat

  • Aerialist Elena Gatilova performs during Teatro ZinZanni's "Love, Chaos & Dinner."

    Aerialist Elena Gatilova performs during Teatro ZinZanni's "Love, Chaos & Dinner." Courtesy of Alabastro Photography

  • Amelia Zirin-Brown is Rizo, the chanteuse who presides over "Love, Chaos & Dinner," the new Teatro ZinZanni cabaret-cirque hybrid running inside the Spiegeltent ZaZou at Chicago's Cambria Hotel.

    Amelia Zirin-Brown is Rizo, the chanteuse who presides over "Love, Chaos & Dinner," the new Teatro ZinZanni cabaret-cirque hybrid running inside the Spiegeltent ZaZou at Chicago's Cambria Hotel. Courtesy of Alabastro Photography

  • Soprano Kelly Britt, a Chicago native, is among the cabaret and circus artists performing in Teatro ZinZanni's "Love, Chaos & Dinner."

    Soprano Kelly Britt, a Chicago native, is among the cabaret and circus artists performing in Teatro ZinZanni's "Love, Chaos & Dinner." Courtesy of Alabastro Photography

  • Australian actor/entertainer Tim Tyler, left, and Canadian actor and Cirque du Soleil veteran Joe De Paul supply comic relief in Teatro ZinZanni's "Love, Chaos & Dinner."

    Australian actor/entertainer Tim Tyler, left, and Canadian actor and Cirque du Soleil veteran Joe De Paul supply comic relief in Teatro ZinZanni's "Love, Chaos & Dinner." Courtesy of Alabastro Photography

 
 
Updated 7/25/2019 10:36 AM

Teatro ZinZanni: "Love Chaos & Dinner" -- ★ ★ ★

Imagine a show that pairs the music of Jimi Hendrix, Jerome Kern and Giacomo Puccini with circus artists and vaudeville-style clowns.

by signing up you agree to our terms of service
                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Picture this cabaret/Cirque du Soleil hybrid unfolding in a claret-colored, velvet tent with stained glass insets and crystal chandeliers. Envision it accompanied by a four-course meal, and you have a pretty good idea of what "Love, Chaos & Dinner" is all about.

Evanston-based aerialists Duo Rose, Samuel Sion and Sylvia Friedman, are among the circus artists featured in Teatro ZinZanni's "Love, Chaos & Dinner."
Evanston-based aerialists Duo Rose, Samuel Sion and Sylvia Friedman, are among the circus artists featured in Teatro ZinZanni's "Love, Chaos & Dinner." - Courtesy of Alabastro Photography

The theatrical and gastronomical spectacle comes from Teatro ZinZanni, which serves up the feast within the cozy confines of the Spiegeltent ZaZou, a swanky tent imported from Belgium. It occupies the Cambria Hotel's 14th floor, a cavernous, long-forgotten space that was uncovered during renovations for the hotel, which is located in the building that also houses the James M. Nederlander Theatre.

The show itself unfolds as a more intimate version of Cirque du Soleil with comedians, vocalists and an especially garrulous emcee sharing the main stage -- the "center ring" -- with aerialists, jugglers, acrobats and tumblers/body jugglers.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 
Teatro ZinZanni veteran Frank Ferrante, AKA Chef Caesar, co-hosts and serves up comedy as part of "Love, Chaos & Dinner" at Chicago's Cambria Hotel.
Teatro ZinZanni veteran Frank Ferrante, AKA Chef Caesar, co-hosts and serves up comedy as part of "Love, Chaos & Dinner" at Chicago's Cambria Hotel. - Courtesy of Alabastro Photography

Quick-witted co-host Frank Ferrante -- an 18-year Teatro ZinZanni veteran who starred as the titular funnyman in off-Broadway's "Groucho: A Life in Revue" -- plays Caesar, a quirky charmer who serves up shtick alongside the glamorous chanteuse Rizo (Amelia Zirin-Brown). Resplendent in sequins and feathers, Zirin-Brown rattles the rafters with her powerhouse voice. She shares most of the vocals with Chicago native Kelly Britt, a lovely soprano whose performance of Leonard Bernstein's "Glitter and Be Gay" from "Candide" and "Musetta's Waltz" from Puccini's "La Boheme" suggest she'd be equally at home on the Civic Opera House stage.

That said, "Love, Chaos & Dinner" isn't all arias and acrobats. The deliciously eclectic set list (performed by conductor Russ Long's quintet) includes Hendrix's "Little Wing" and Kern's "The Way You Look Tonight." The latter included a dance break opening night during which Ferrante spun a 91-year-old guest around the dance floor.

Comic relief comes courtesy of the clowns: the ukulele-playing Tim Tyler and Joe De Paul, whose take on "King Kong" is inspired.

Circus tumblers the Anastasini Brothers stopped Teatro ZinZanni's opening night performance of "Love, Chaos & Dinner," a combination cabaret and cirque-style show at Chicago's Cambria Hotel.
Circus tumblers the Anastasini Brothers stopped Teatro ZinZanni's opening night performance of "Love, Chaos & Dinner," a combination cabaret and cirque-style show at Chicago's Cambria Hotel. - Courtesy of Alabastro Photography
                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

The thrills come courtesy of their fellow circus artists, including rhythmic gymnast Elena Gatilova, whose transformation from caterpillar cleaning lady into butterfly aerialist provides the show's most touching moments.

While married trapeze artists Samuel Sion and Sylvia Friedman, of Evanston, combine strength and elegance in a romantic aerial adagio act, the spirited Anastasini Brothers define sibling collaboration. Their body juggling stopped the show.

Rounding out the ensemble is juggler Gamal David Garcia and acrobat Domitil Aillot, who perform their antics up close and personal. Diners sitting near the stage be aware the performers may commandeer your table and/or enlist you in their high jinks.

Christine Joly de Lotbiniere designed the sumptuous costumes and Shauna Frazier designed the zany set pieces, which include a golden chariot for Caesar and a cheesecake delivery contraption that operated almost perfectly.

Juggler and third generation circus performer Gamal David Garcia is among the artists featured in Teatro ZinZanni's "Love, Chaos & Dinner."
Juggler and third generation circus performer Gamal David Garcia is among the artists featured in Teatro ZinZanni's "Love, Chaos & Dinner." - Courtesy of Alabastro Photography

The dinner/show, directed by Norman Langill, runs about three hours. It could use some tightening. Several bits, including some of the audience-involved shtick, go on too long.

Even so, in "Love, Chaos & Dinner," Teatro ZinZanni's engaging entertainers and world-class artist/athletes serve up a most delightful dish.

• • •

Location: Spiegeltent ZaZou at the Cambria Hotel Chicago, 14th floor, 32 W. Randolph St., Chicago, (312) 488-0900 or zinzanni.com

Showtimes: 7 p.m. Wednesday through Friday; noon and 7 p.m. Saturday and Sunday; through Sept. 29

Running time: About 3 hours including dinner

Tickets: $124-$193

Parking: Paid lots nearby

Rating: For adults; contains mature subject matter and sexual innuendo

0 Comments
                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 
Article Comments ()
Guidelines: Keep it civil and on topic; no profanity, vulgarity, slurs or personal attacks. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked. If a comment violates these standards or our terms of service, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box. To find our more, read our FAQ.