Strike the Spiegeltent- Teatro ZinZanni to close

Inside the Spiegeltent

Sadly, word went out today that after more than eleven years, 800,000 visitors, hundreds of guest artists and 40 different shows, Teatro ZinZanni will shutter the fabled Palais Nostalgique Spiegeltent on Pier 29 after its 2011 New Year’s Eve show. 

Teatro’s current home on Piers 27 and 29 is scheduled to be a part of the upcoming America’s Cup and the Bay Area treasure is working closely with the City to locate a new permanent home. Longtime Bay Area comedian and clown Geoff Hoyle (a veteran of Pickle Family Circus, Cirque du Soleil, A.C.T. and Berkeley Rep to name a few) and blues singer Duffy Bishop, a Teatro ZinZanni favorite since 1999 who has released eight albums in addition to performing with various legends such as Bo Diddley, John Lee Hooker, Lou Rawls and Ruth Brown, will headline the final (and brand new) production, On the Air, accompanied by an acclaimed international cast beginning October 13 and closing December 31, 2011. In a storyline that echoes Teatro ZinZanni’s own struggles to remain in San Francisco, the plot revolves around the struggle to keep a local radio station on the air.

The other performers are also heavyweights I've seen in previous ZinZanni productions, which makes this final run all the more alluring. Joining the cast of On The Air is Bernard Hazens who has been thrilling Teatro ZinZanni crowds for the past four years with his one of a kind act, a dynamically choreographed combination of acrobatics, juggling and Rola Bola; Danielle Rueda-Watts, an aerial silk artist featured in the hit movie musical Chicago and the documentary of Michael Jackson’s final tour This Is It; Wayne Doba, hailed by Donald O’Connor as a “throwback to the old Vaudeville days” and Cirque du Soleil veteran Andrea Conway Doba with her physical comedy and acrobatic mischief; resident opera diva Kristin Clayton, a graduate of the prestigious San Francisco Opera Adler Fellow Program and well known for her performances of contemporary works by composer such as Conrad Susa, Jake Heggie and Peter Ash; Manuela Horn, otherwise known as the Austrian Amazon, a yodeling, dancing, acting comedic force of nature; Christopher Phi, a San Francisco native and graduate of the prestigious Notre Dame de Namur University, who showcases his handbalancing and aerial artistry; and multi-media performance artist Mat Plendl, who brings his own form of magic to the tent in the form of a hula-hoop.
Danielle Rueda-Watts: Photo by Michael Doucett

 “We are proud to trace our lineage back to the very beginnings of theater in San Francisco,” said Norm Langill, Teatro ZinZanni’s President and Artistic Director.  “From the Rowe Circus to the National Theater to the Tivoli Opera House founded during the Gold Rush, Teatro ZinZanni is one in a long line of high spirited San Francisco theatrical experiences combining the arts of vaudeville, cabaret, cirque and opera with great food and strong drink– a winning combination if ever there was on." Amen to that. This is a significant loss for San Francisco and one can only hope the City comes up with a plan to relocate the troupe.
Norm Langill: Photo by Drew Altizer

Langill continued:"Showbiz is unpredictable, but we can celebrate an amazing eleven year run on Pier 27 and 29. I’m constantly humbled by the enthusiasm of our audiences, the talent of our performers and staff and the support from the City of San Francisco. Working together with city leaders, we are determined to find a permanent home in San Francisco– for Teatro ZinZanni is now part of the terrific fabric of cultural institutions that give this city  its unparalleled reputation for arts and culture. Our show mirrors the spirit of this city – a magical place that embraces silliness, frivolity, fun, intimacy and self expression. We’ll be back. This is home.”

There will be an "Americana” menu to complement the theme of the performances.  Understandably, ticket demand will be high for these final shows so do yourself a favor and get yours now by phone at 415/438-2668 or online at If you've seen ZinZanni before, you know you won't want to miss what may be their swan song. If you haven't seen this incredibly entertaining and talented company before, just go before it's too late.

NB: some of the copy in this post was pulled and reworded by me from a press release ZinZanni sent to me, but I wouldn't print it if I didn't think it to be true- J.M.