“Love, Chaos & Dinner” will open next year on April 5.
By Dan Zeff
Chicago—Early in this millennium I visited Seattle and reviewed a popular dinner theater called Teatro ZinZanni. The show was presented in a large tent like structure and was a blend of cabaret theater and the circus with a whiff of Cirque du Soleil.
Teatro ZinZanni originated in 1998 and establishes a presence in both San Francisco and Seattle in assorted locations. There was much broad comedy and audience interaction in Seattle but still room for a beautiful rendition of the aria “Nessun Dorma” from the Italian opera “Turandot.” I also retain fond memories of a truly symphonic bread pudding that ended the meal.
The master of ceremonies of the show was Frank Ferrante who coincidentally I had seen weeks earlier doing a Groucho Marx show at a theater in Arlington Heights. Ferrante came over to my table to chat and expressed fond memories of his experiences on the Chicagoland theater scene and a wish that Teatro ZinZanni could extend its West Coast moorings to test the Chicago entertainment market
Frank Ferrante’s wish is now coming true. Teatro ZinZanni will open next April at a performance space on the 14th floor of the Cambria Hotel. next to the Oriental Theater at 32 West Randolph Street in the heart of the Loop. Ferrante, who claims appearances in 1,200 performances of the show out West, will be the master of ceremonies. The food menu will be supervised by Australian caterer Debbie Sharpe, who started the Goddess and Grocer chain of restaurants in Chicago in 1990.
The performing space was discovered in 2017 during the renovation of the hotel when dropped ceilings were removed to reveal the original large area within the 1926 building. The tent, brought to Chicago from Belgium is officially called Spiegeltent ZaZou and features a plush interior décor that will lean heavily on mirrors and decorative wood.
The theater will house a stage and tables for the dining patrons. The circus acts will include an aerial trapeze duo, a hoop aerialist, an acrobat, and a body juggling act. Some of the acts will descend from the ceiling high above the stage. There will also be a pair of comedians and Ferrante will preside throughout, frequently mingling with the audience, showing his Don Rickles chops. The entire production will be called “Love, Chaos & Dinner.”
The tickets aren’t cheap but they are in line with the price of seats in Loop theaters that don’t provide four-course meals. The base price is a single admission is $123, which ascends a number of plateaus, depending on seat location, and day and time of performance. There is a separate price list for groups. Shows are scheduled for Wednesday through Sunday at 7 p.m. with brunch matinees Saturday and Sunday at noon.
The local BroadwayinChicago organization is handling group and subscription sales, which are already available by calling 312 977 1710 or visiting BroadwayinChicago.com. Presale individual tickets begin November 26 and the general on sale begins December 7. Performances start April 5.