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European-American Topics - Culture - Quest for Queendom

Teatro ZinZanni's Quest for Queendom   
Reviewed by Asli Omur
Posted July 5, 2008

British Comedienne Krissie Illing as Queen Wilma
Photo: William Anthony


Teatro ZinZanni’s new cabaret comedy show, Quest for Queendom, opened this week under the crushed velvet Belgian spiegletent the venue is known for.  

The show began unexpectedly upon arrival. Odd ball characters Les Castors, the band of cabaret brothers, the shy German duo, Die Maiers, who are secretly crushing on each other and the cartoonish chef paraded around the dining hall, checking silver ware and cracking jokes.

 Each meal was presented from a skit, complete with dancing and singing servers. The lighting was intimate, almost spooky and very art deco with glimmers of 1920s gangster, top hats, flapper girls, peep show like appeal and outright glamour. Guests were also encouraged to come in feather boas, bangles or other festive costume.

The crowded dining room acted as the main stage for physical comedy, trapeze artists, acrobats, British humor, jazzy classics and the sparkling sass of a drag queen host, Manchester, played by Seattle native and original ZinZanni cast member Kevin Kent. Manchester is desperate to steal the crown from Queen Wilma of the magical land of ZinZannia. Kent used a lot of improvisation and was bent on embarrassing as many male guests as he could, by dressing them up in his cupcake colored bustier and red lipstick or picking them out of the crowd as possible boyfriend material for the queen. British comedienne, Krissie Illing, played the geeky queen. The Orchestra De Ville got the audience dancing with the kinds of songs everyone knows by heart.

Francine Reed, the jazz singer with a delicious and robust sound, stole the show to riotous applause. Reed is often remembered for her back-up vocals with blues country musician Lyle Lovett.

Chinese acrobats, Ling Rui and Fang Ming and German wire artist, Crystalle, wowed the audience with their graceful and fluid movement. Hypnotic melodies and colored lights shimmered against their body hugging costumes.

    The 5-course-dinner was mediocre and disappointing considering the $105-155 price tag per person guests have to cough up. I even ended up with food poisoning at the end of the night. The service of the meal was choppy, leaving some guests plate-less watching as others began the second or third course. The alcoholic beverage list was extensive. Our server was painfully nice. The ambience was reminiscent of Disney World or Cirque Du Soleil on a cruise ship. Although quirky and silly, the presentation was not worth the price.

Quest for Queendom is one of the many shows that change by season. Quest for Queendom closes its curtains on October 19. Teatro ZinZanni is an independent and non-profit organization developed by One Reel. The ZinZanni Institute for Circus Arts is providing a summer camp starting July 21 where children ages 11 to 15 are invited to learn the tricks of the trade in Teatro ZinZanni’s spiegeltent. For more information, please visit


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