|Joan Baez and Voronin|
My mother and I arrived early to see Teatro ZinZanni's latest incarnation, "Maestro's Enchantment." Too early actually, for the Spiegeltent hadn't even opened. Instead of waiting, we decided to walk down the Embarcadero for a drink at the place formerly known as Houston's, the current name of which I can never recall. Hillstone, perhaps. I used to frequent no-longer-Houston's with friends, but during the past couple of years it fell off my radar as that circle splintered and later it seemed that whenever I went there with just one person the night always ended poorly. Perhaps it sets off some strange metaphysical reaction in me when I walk through the door leading to ineluctable drama triggered by the smell of burning wood and roasting pork chops, which then combusts once the third Manhattan is served. The drinks there have always been excellent and still are.
Unlike the last two TZ productions I've seen (Caliente and A License to Kiss), both exuberant romps, Maestro's Enchantment has a dark tone around the edges, despite the presence of the circus acts, comedy routines (led by former Ringling Brothers clown Peter Pitofsky), an extremely talented contortionist (Svetlana), and a tremendous opera singer (Kristin Clayton). The cast also includes the gold medalist acrobat Bianca Sapetto, comedic trapeze artists The Collins Brothers, the juggler Sergiy Krutikov and magician Brandon Rabe. As usual with Teatro ZinZanni, the talent in the tent is formidable and of the highest caliber- it's amazing what these performers can do. I suspect the darker tone may have something to do with the Russian influence of the cast, but perhaps that's because I've read too much Russian literature (if such a thing is actually possible) and I listen to too much Rachmaninoff and Shostakovitch.
Despite the presence of Baez, the show is clearly Voronin's. A veteran of more than 20 ZinZanni productions, he owns the stage with his incredible magic tricks and mysterious persona. He and Baez have an alluring chemistry between them which hints at a brooding, dark romance. It will be interesting to see how that chemistry between the characters changes once Melanie Stace takes over the role in August. The show continues through Oct. 9th. For tickets call ZinZanni at 415 328 2668 or go their website.