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Show and Tell: Teatro ZinZanni's 'Tambourine Submarine,' Featuring Recess Monkey

Published on: December 30, 2013

The bottom line

Teatro ZinZanni's Tambourine Submarine, featuring kindie band Recess Monkey, is perfect for all ages and fledgling theatergoers. If your kids enjoy bouts of dancing to zippy music mixed with awesome theatrics and acrobatics, then this show is sure to please. Squeals of delight and singing along to music were encouraged, so if you have a loud and energetic child (who, me?) you don’t have to worry about keeping them quiet.


Stage notes

You couldn’t dream up a better atmosphere for a magical show like this. ZinZanni's century-old red-velvet circus tent, the Spiegeltent, is a breathtaking masterpiece of gold brocade, velvet and mahogany. It’s reminiscent of a time when entertainment wasn’t derived from iPads or gaming consoles, and perfectly complements the one-of-a-kind live performances.

Unlike a lot of other theater performances, kids aren’t expected to sit quietly in a chair and watch the show, but are invited to dance beneath the stage and wander back to their seat or booth if they want to. Recess Monkey, a high-energy kindie band formed by a trio of Seattle schoolteachers puts on an engaging performance guaranteed to get kids moving and shaking.

This was our second Teatro ZinZanni kids show — we attended King's Wish featuring Caspar Babypants last year. This time, we brought along two extra kiddos (making five kids in total). I was a little nervous about taking a big brood of kids, but it was easy since they all danced and remained captivated while my husband and I enjoyed the show from our booth. It almost felt like we were on a date.


Tambourine Submarine combines music with an exciting ocean-themed plot. Percival the Sailor (Ben Wendel) and Matey (Ian Green) have hilarious chemistry during their quest for treasure beneath the sea. The Sea Goddess (Ariana Lallone) performs a gorgeous en pointe ballet dance and managed to make a room full of energetic children fall silent in their captivation.  My favorite moment was watching the amazing strength and beauty of Percival the sailor and Marina the Mermaid (Rache Nehmer of Duo Madrona) as they performed a breathtaking acrobatic act suspended in the air.

All of the acts are interspersed between songs where kids have the opportunity to get their wiggles out. It’s a great balance of audience dancing and participation along with more subdued, captivating moments.

Other acts included some awesome acrobatics by the seagulls/ocean creatures played by a young group of graduates of Camp ZinZanni, a youth circus camp. There was also an adorable dance number by a group of three young hula dancers.

Kid quote

The child performers were my kids’ favorite part — I know they were inspired. My son has been begging me to attend their circus camp since the show.


Parent tips

Stock up on snacks at the concessions beforehand. Kids work up an appetite dancing to all the fast-paced tunes. My kids devoured the mini-corn dogs and fruit kabobs and drank a lot of water.

Take a quick potty break before the show; it’s fast-paced and there isn’t an intermission. You don’t want to miss anything!

Parking can be tricky. Give yourself time to find a spot.

Lobby doors open at 10:30 a.m. and it’s worth showing up early. We had fun exploring the century-old tent. Plan to greet band-members in the lobby before or after the show (and you can even buy some of their CDs). My kids were star-struck when we chatted with them after the show and delighted to get their picture taken with them.

Photos aren’t allowed during performances, so plan to snap a few photos before or after the show. My daughter was proud to be in a photo with the “pretty mermaid princess.”


If you go ...

Where and when: Teatro ZinZanni, 222 Mercer St. Seattle with Tambourine Submarine performances on selected weekends through December 15. Shows start at 11 a.m. and last 1 hour 15 minutes.

Tickets: $19 for booth seating, $25 for chair seating. Babes in arms are free. Buy online.

Rory is a slightly neurotic mom to three young children and Parentmap's Social Media Coordinator. She can often be found hiding from her kids in the closet while eating chocolate chips (which she aspires to bake something with but never does). You can see more of her musings about parenting at ParanoidStayAtHomeMom.

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