Teatro ZinZanni, 222 Mercer St., 802-0015, zinzanni.com. $99 and up. Runs Thurs.–Sun. Ends Jan. 31.
Festively asserting that too much is never enough, TZZ’s new show keeps its dinner-cabaret formula fresh with acts that mash up entertainment skills in pairs: aerial plus dance en pointe by PNB alumna Ariana Lallone; trapeze plus contortion with Duo Rose; juggling plus the speed and aesthetic of thrash metal by Gamal David Garcia; and, most warmly appreciated by last Thursday’s crowd, ballroom dance plus pole work, expanding it into a third dimension, by the astounding Vertical Tango. (Even the chefs chime in with the entree, making plain salmon startling, which I wouldn’t have thought possible, with a lemon-chile cream sauce.)
All this is organized by just the lightest spritz of storyline: Vivian Beaumount and Clifton Caswell (Christine Deaver and Kevin Kent) return to a swanky hotel, run by Don Diego (Robert Lopez), “the second most interesting man in the world,” to renew their vows. Continuing the theme, Deaver transforms Pat Benatar’s “Love Is a Battlefield” into a torch song; Kent, known as a master of drag, dolls up as Deaver’s double to sing “Sisters”; and Deaver plays matador (to Kent’s randy bull) in one of the show’s two audience-participation skits. By the end, the gender-melding is complete—Beaumount and Caswell reconcile, each adopting at least two sexes, maybe more. It’s a romantic finale as spicy as the Southwest-inspired menu; that and Don Diego’s encouragement of same-sex partnering, as he invites the audience to get up and take a turn on the dance floor, should subvert whatever preconceptions you may have had about TZZ being bland and safe. Gavin Borchert
Seattle Repertory THeatre, Seattle Center, 443-2222, seattlerep.org. $17–$67. Runs. Wed.–Sun. Ends Nov. 2.
Two song-and-dance artistes, touring Antarctica in the ’20s, get frozen in an avalanche for 90-some years and stage a post-thaw comeback: This is the nutball premise of The Vaudevillians, another showbiz-sendup pas de deux playing just across the street from Teatro ZinZanni’s. Jerick Hoffer and Richard Andriessen, in their stage personae of Jinkx Monsoon and Major Scales, assume the characters (stay with me) of chanteuse Kitty Witless and pianist Doctor Dan Von Dandy, who awaken to find their numbers have, in the intervening decades, been plagiarized as pop hits. This retrofitting is the show’s truly genius idea: in their “original” guises, “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” comes out as minor-key Kurt Weill, “Toxic” as a Kander & Ebb showstopper. The best joke of all is how little reworking 4 Non Blondes’ “What’s Up?” (remember it? from 1993?) needs to sound vintage. (Its sing-along chorus and that of 1927’s hot-cha hit “Varsity Drag” are practically inversions of each other.)
Hoffer in drag becomes a brassy belter with remarkable lungs and fabulous gams; I’d love to see him as Chicago’s Roxie Hart. There’s a hint of Megan Mullally’s Karen Walker in his vocal inflections as Witless—maybe Karen impersonating a Carol Channing impersonator, or vice versa. Andriessen continues the tradition of local alt-theater comperes like Kevin Joyce or Circus Contraption’s Armitage Shanks—with a similar polished suavity, but with less of a sinister vibe and more rubbery energy.
Their flow of shtick never slows, gags and mugging are sprayed at a machine-gun pace, and in the audaciously invasive audience-participation segments, Hoffer’s ad-lib skills are peerless. If the pair stretches Act 2 a bit thin, Witless will be damned if she doesn’t make up for it. In a long set piece built around “I Will Survive,” she chews not only the scenery, but all of the Rep and an acre or two of Seattle Center. Gavin Borchert