Teatro ZinZanni's spiegeltent. Photo credit Mark Kitaoka
If you and your kids are as obsessed with the movie “The Greatest Showman” as we are at my house, I don’t have to tell you twice that the circus arts are making a serious comeback. So what better time to treat your family to dinner and a show at Teatro ZinZanni's new home in Marymoor Park? The enchanting, soaring circus magic isn’t on a screen — it’s right above you, live and on stage.
"Love, Chaos, and Dinner” is Teatro Zinzanni’s latest dinner theater concept playing now through April 29. It’s also one of the theater’s first shows after moving its spiegeltent to a temporary home on the Eastside. After years of pitching its tent in the Lower Queen Anne neighborhood near Seattle Center, ZinZanni's landlord sold the lot, and thus the move to Marymoor Park, though this location is likely not to be its permanent home.
The story of "Love, Chaos, and Dinner" centers around a circus dinner theater (get it?) prepping for a visit by a famous restaurant critic and the antics that ensue. But the plot is less important than the acts. The show directed by Joe DePaul and led by first-time Madame ZinZanni Ariana Savalas. The company of performers features Bay Area funnyman Ron Campbell as a surprise visitor, local aerial trapeze favorites Duo Madrona, magician Maestro Voronin, contortionist-puppet Svetlana, yodeling dominatrix Manuela Horn, hoop aerialist Elena Gatilova and Parisian acrobat Domitil Aillot.
The bottom line
It’s a circus, alright — and in the best possible way. Even the venue itself has a vintage circus vibe, as the makeshift tent erected for the show’s run is a 100-year-old spiegeltent. Just seeing the tent backlit against the night sky as you arrive will have “Greatest Showman” fans excited for a real-live circus arts performance.
It’s not just the setting that sparkles. When it comes to acrobatic arts, “Love, Chaos, and Dinner,” delivers. Performers present three incredible, gravity-defying acts, all while you dine. Hoop aerialist Elena Gatilova, Parisian acrobat Domitil Aillot and duet performers Duo Madrona are equal parts athletic and artistic in their acrobatic performances. On the night we went, every performer hit their marks with awe-inspiring precision and perfection. Because the venue is so intimate, every diner is close to the action.
Other parts of the show that kids will enjoy: the live band (where every member plays several different instruments), the slapstick humor of the waitstaff; the hilarious audience interactions with comedian Ron Campbell; and the magic shows performed at various points during a four-course dinner. (I was sitting across from an 8-year-old boy who was thoroughly entertained the entire show.)
Parents should know
It’s classic dinner theater so sexual innuendos and some scantily-clad characters are on the table — literally. But for the most part, adult content is mild and the show is fairly family-friendly.
All characters in the show interact with audience members throughout the dining experience, at points ribbing them with mild jabs and occasionally pulling unwitting participants onto centerstage for slapstick humor riffs. Some of these bits get raunchy but most of this humor is mild and very much above kids’ heads. If you have a child or partner who’s anxious in social situations, you may want to check in about how they’d feel if they got called out into the crowd before you go.
The show is three hours long so it may be a good idea to kids a late, hearty lunch or snack beforehand. There are breaks for eating during every course, so kids don’t have to sit super still or quietly the entire time. But with showtimes starting at 7 p.m. most evenings (6 p.m. on Sundays), meals at evening shows don’t get served until well after most kids’ typical dinner time (expect to see food at around 8 p.m.). If you have a picky eater or a child with food allergies, menu options are limited, so you may want to call ahead to see if they can accommodate any food restrictions.
Pricing starts at $99 so this experience is definitely a splurge rather than a casual weekend activity. It would be a great alternative birthday party idea for a young circus arts fan. It would also make good special celebration outing for your family, or leave the kids with a sitter and make it a date night. If you do take children, keep in mind that general admission tickets mean you’ll be seated with other dinner guests, so you should consider how your child would do in mixed company. You may also want to talk with your kid about how to be polite at the dinner table when strangers are seated next to you.
Though it’s not a requirement, most attendees were fairly dressed up the night we went. I’ve got some tweens in my household who love a chance to throw on a dress and some lip gloss; this is definitely a chance to get fancy.
If you go...
Parking: There’s plenty of parking on site for $15 for the night. Marymoor Park also offers $1 parking at various locations throughout the park depending on the day and time, but it may not be worth the lengthy walk if it’s a dark and rainy night.
Tips for parents: