Review: Teatro ZinZanni Chicago

Teatro ZinZanni returns in a more relaxed but still delightfully entertaining fashion with LOVE, CHAOS, AND DINNER

By: Jan. 15, 2024
Review: Teatro ZinZanni Chicago
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Teatro ZinZanni is back inside the spiegeltent nestled on the fourteenth floor of the Cambria Hotel on Randolph to delight audiences with its latest edition: LOVE, CHAOS, AND DINNER. The creative team has brought back the title from the first iteration of the show in Chicago for this engagement. It’s a reliably delightful combination of cabaret and circus entertainment, and because it’s literally dinner and a show in one, it’s a reasonably good value, too. 

LOVE, CHAOS, AND DINNER has tricks both old and new up its sleeve; some acts return from previous versions, but this show has dazzling new hosts who provide a different comedic energy. Chicago native Sa’rayah assumes the role of Madame ZinZanni (played at Saturday matinees by Tina Jenkins Crawley). She’s an alumna of THE VOICE, and when she brings down the house with her rendition of Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep,” it’s clear why. Madame ZinZanni’s counterpart is Lucy Darling (Carisa Hendrix). Hendrix developed the character of Lucy Darling ahead of this show, but she fits right into the Teatro ZinZanni circus. Rather than the purely slapstick and comedic takes of Teatro ZinZanni hosts pasts, Hendrix skillfully combines both jokes and magic in her act. And while there’s nothing subtle about Lucy Darling, she has a commanding, streamlined presence. Hendrix tosses off double entendres and engages in audience interplay easily, but she also performs deft sleight of hand tricks. The magic fits right into this show. 

Madame ZinZanni and Lucy Darling provide the through-line for the rest of the cabaret and circus acts; the performers also serve as the ensemble, performing various comedic bits throughout. But it’s when the performers show off their signature talents that they’re at their most dazzling. Ulzii Mergen kicks it off with her contortionist act; she’s wildly flexible, and she twists her body into shapes that don’t seem humanly possible. Michael Evolution also returns with his basketball juggling. Notably, both Mergen and Evolution understand the principles of vaudeville acts: the contortionist movements and the basketball juggling become more and more complicated and astounding as the acts goes on. These are consummate performers! 

Of course, it wouldn’t be Teatro ZinZanni if some of the performers weren’t dangling from the ceiling with their aerial acts. REturning performer Lea Hinz dazzles with her graceful and gorgeous aerial hoop act; Hinz combines the gracefulness of a dancer with the sheer athleticism and strength needed to pull this off. 

Hair aerialist (yes, you read that correctly) Danila Bim has one of the most jaw-dropping and magical performances of the night. She hangs from the her hair bun. Bim’s act seems miraculous; it’s a feat of pure strength, but like Hinz, she also has so much beauty and movement in her performance. 

The grand finale features the returning Duo 19, Cassie Cutler and Oliver Parkinson, who perform a trapeze act. Parkinson and Cutler literally fly through the air, and this is clearly an act that requires an immense amount of trust and precision to pull off. It went off without a hitch, and it was breath-taking. 

Teatro ZinZanni combines cabaret, comedy, magic, and circus into an immensely entertaining and engaging night out. 

Teatro ZinZanni : LOVE, CHAOS, AND DINNER runs at the Cambria Hotel, 32 West Randolph, through March 31, 2024. Performances are Thursday - Sunday. 

Photo Credit: Barry Brecheisen