Teatro ZinZanni proves that variety shows are the spice of life | Theater Review | Chicago Reader

Teatro ZinZanni proves that variety shows are the spice of life 

Love, Chaos & Dinner offers a delicious feast of comedy, thrills, and music.

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Alan Alabastro

UPDATE Tuesday March 17: this event is on hiatus. Refunds available at point of purchase.

Teatro ZinZanni's Chicago premiere of Love, Chaos & Dinner is a delightfully schizophrenic extravaganza. Occupying an entire floor of the Cambria Hotel with a giant big-top tent that glitters with mirrors and chandeliers, this show is three hours of madcap high jinks and stunning feats of awe. Guests are guided through the pandemonium by two cohosts. Cabaret star Rizo (aka Amelia Zirin-Brown), a Lady Gagaesque diva with a big voice and commanding presence, enters on the shoulders of men, draped in marabou, and treats the audience to an audacious cover of Jimi Hendrix's "Little Wing." Frank Ferrante is Caesar the Chef, a master improviser who pokes fun at the audience with frenetic character work, corny jokes, and some old-school pop cultural references, from Redd Foxx to Mary Tyler Moore.

The sizzling and versatile band, headed by musical director Hans Teuber, leads the cast through a songbook that includes classic cabaret songs like "Don't Touch My Tomatoes" and modern hits. This true variety show includes outstanding acts of opera, juggling, comedy, and multiple astounding trapeze and tumbling features, including one jaw-dropping act by Duo Rose that I can only describe as a death-defying sexy aerial dance—some of the best work you'll see outside of Cirque du Soleil.

Comedy by Joe De Paul and Tim Tyler keeps the mood mirthful and goofy, and even the four-course dinner (created by Debbie Sharpe of the Goddess and Grocer) becomes part of the show, served by a cast of roving comedians who deliver tableside comedy. Stay home if you don't like fun. As for me, I would go a second time.   v

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