TZ’s Lucky in Love: Glitz and Spectacle à la ZinZanni

Duo Madrona
Photo by Keith Brofsky.

Teatro ZinZanni’s latest production, Lucky in Love is all glitz, with an innuendo of a story that becomes irrelevant when you realize what you want most is to see the next costume, or maybe to devour the next course. The setting is a casino. There is kind of a heist. None of that matters though. What matters is the spectacle, and the laughs. Lucky in Love is Co-Directed by Joe De Paul and Tobias Larson, and showcases many TZ favorites as well as newcomers.

For fifteen years TZ has wowed audiences with honest-to-goodness acrobatics and stunts that stand toe-to-toe with anything on offer in Vegas or circuses the world over. Indeed, the international cast of performers contorting and swinging and balancing in defiance of gravity and fear are living feats of awesome. With healthy dollop of audience participation and server-performers who float in and out like dreams, the whole night is an executive experience of luxury in what seems like a world existing outside of time.

Ricky La Rue is reason enough to catch this show. He’s the host who interacts with the crowd the most, and he is impossible not to like. At one point while futzing with Dylan, our brave audience rube for the night, he looked up and him and said with perfect sincerity, “You are so wonderful.” Then they danced like airplanes with their arms spread like wings. Maybe it was a canned line, but La Rue’s timing earned big goofy laughs.

Duo Madrona is an aerial act that is everything that’s right about this show. Two stunning acrobats who as characters slowly orbit closer and closer throughout the show until finally she kisses him, his shirt comes off, and they swing from the top of the Spiegeltent. Les Petit Frères seem to have a similar immunity to gravity. Alternating between silly and sublime, they mug and goof, and then break your heart with a bit of mime, before tumbling as if made of rubber. Everything every performer does is a dance.

Sipping on custom cocktails and finishing off your meat or fish or pasta its easy to forget that all of this is the result of people: artists. The aerospace tolerances evident in the stage management, the field generals in the kitchen putting out five hundred meals at a go, and the perfect hair, makeup, and costumes all conspire to make the evening a little magic.

When looking at the immodest ticket price, folks can take comfort in the knowledge that TZ is best experienced the first time one attends. Many of the performers in this production have been showcased previously, and a lot of those acts get repeated. It’s like hearing a joke for the second time. There’s an appreciation on secondary merits, but the visceral reaction is diminished, if present at all. This may be an unfair criticism, as for the most part these performances are feats that come at the end of thousands of hours of practice. Changing up acts involves real safety concerns in many cases, to be sure. Also there may be constraints vis-à-vis space, time, and staging. For more than a hundred dollars per person, though, to not see an entirely new show is a bit disappointing. Honestly, they should try harder.

Through Sep 28 // Teatro ZinZanni, 222 Mercer Street, Seattle 98109 // Tickets $86-$163, available from Teatro ZinZanni

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