On the Air: Teatro ZinZanni going out with a bang

Cast of On The Air : Bottom row, left to right: Mat Plendl, Duffy Bishop, Kristin Clayton, Geoff Hoyle.
Middle row, left to right: Christopher Phi, Bernard Hazens, Manuela Horn, Wayne Doba, Andrea Conway-Doba Top: Elena Gatilova Photo Credit: Mark Kitaok

 It's Teatro ZinZanni's last stand at Pier 29 and they're going out with a sexy, delightful romp called "On the Air," which features some of the best performers I've seen inside the tent. The original press materials mentioned a plot about a radio station getting the boot and the crew putting on a defiant final show before the powers-that-be turned everyone out in the street (reflecting, um, reality), but somewhere along the way that story line was jettisoned in favor of three hours of non-stop entertainment, ZinZanni-style. It works on every level.

Duffy Bishop 
Photo Credit: Mark Kitaoka

The evening begins with very funny man Geoff Hoyle as "Red Bottoms," dropping one-liners they way they used to, complete with violin in hand. Hoyle, a veteran of Broadway and well-known among Bay Area audiences, has flawless comedic timing and delights as a few different characters (as does everyone in the show). Blues belter Duffy Bishop is also in the cast. A ZinZanni veteran who has recorded eight albums and performed with John Lee Hooker and Bo Diddley, she brings some serious musical chops to the show, as does the remarkable soprano Kristin Clayton, who performs a memorable version "Quando men Vo" from La Boheme toward the end of the evening.

Geoff Hoyle 
Photo Credit: Tracy Martin

Then there's Manuela Horn, who just may be the sexiest woman alive. The 6' 2" Austrian Amazon is not only funny, but when you see her wickedly wielding a riding crop in her black patent leather dress, matching boots with 8" heels, red leather bra bursting with Alpine cleavage, and Bettie Page 'do, well, let's just say it's time to submit- and the entire audience did, none more willingly than I.

Manuela Horn
Photo Credit: Mark Kitaoka

But ZinZanni is about the circus acts as much as the music, and "On the Air" goes all out on this one. Christopher Phi's hand balancing act seemingly defies what the human body is capable of, and the same can be said of Elena Gatilova's jaw-dropping Circeaux Act, which is performed in an extremely sexy, provocative costume. You can't take your eyes off either of them. Bernard Hazen's Rola Bola routine incorporates juggling and acrobatics and is another delight, as is Mat Plendle's stunning display of what one can do with Hula Hoops.

Christopher Phi, Elena Gatilova, Bernard Hazens Photo Credit: Mark Kitaoka

Andrea Conway and her husband Wayne Doba are also on hand. Conway's a seriously talented artist who has enlivened every ZinZanni show I've seen her in with her goofy charm and impressive physical talents. The duo perform a superb and funny tap dancing act.

Andrea Conway-Doba and Wayne Doba   Photo Credit: Mark Kitaoka 

I won't mention the songs performed during the show because they come up unexpectedly and part of the fun is really having no idea what's coming next, but "On the Air" goes from Shirley Temple to Jimi Hendrix, with a hysterical visit to the Carpenters along the way.

Did I mention how sexy Manuela Horn is?

The five course dinner was delicious and delivered with perfect timing throughout the show.

This is the last chance to see ZinZanni for what may be awhile. After 11 years, 40 different productions, and entertaining over 800,000 people, they're being forced to strike the beautiful Spiegeltent to make way for the America's Cup takeover of the Embarcadero. The non-profit circus is working with the City to find another location (there's a rumor floating around about the corner of Broadway and the Embarcadero), but nothing's confirmed, so check out "On the Air" while you can- the tent comes down after New Year's Eve.