REVIEW | ZinZanni's 'Hotel L'amour' a delightful escape

Teatro ZinZanni has yet another hit. Just close your eyes, and check into their latest endeavor, “Hotel L’amour” for an entertaining extravaganza and a culinary delight.

The show takes place under the 29-foot high, mirrored ceiling of the Moulin Rouge

Spiegeltent, imported from Belgium. Originally built in 1910, it is one of the oldest in the world. Though nearly destroyed by the Nazis during World War II, the spiegeltent was rebuilt after the war and includes a few of the original parts.

Once you enter the tent, imagine you’re in an opulent Paris supper club where cabaret meets circus and comedy, surrounded by red velvet and gilt decor. Now, envision operatic flare, cheeky banter mixed with athletic feats, comedy, mysterious magic and an ageless chanteuse.

Artistic Director Norm Langill and Musical Director Hans Teuber have assembled a talented ensemble of international artists who have performed all over the world. There are fresh faces as well as returning favorites.

A Parisian chanteuse reigns over the evening with plenty of panache. Magic is served with mischief. Physical prowess abounds — trapeze artistry, amazing juggling, gymnastics and, of course, the can-can.

Clad in glittery gowns and matching headdresses, Hollywood/Broadway star Liliane

Montevecchi has returned to ZinZanni. The Tony-winner (“Nine”) has lost none of her sophisticated French charm. The charismatic Parisian diva makes 83 look like 50. She sings and shares memories of her leading men while video images of them appear on the big screen — Marlon Brando, Jerry Lewis, Fred Astaire and even Elvis.

Montevecchi flashes her glamorous gams and regales the audience with a mix of musical standards, some borrowed from Edith Piaf, others from Cole Porter, Jerome Kern and the Gershwins.

As ZinZanni’s favorite emcee, Frank Ferrante is also back as Caesar. He’s a naughty rascal with wonderful comedic timing, great improvisational skills — plus a pocketful of surprises to spring upon unsuspecting audience members.

Kristin Clayton, a voluptuous lyric soprano with a plush bosom and a cheeky demeanor hits the high notes with ease and bedevils Caesar with sassy retorts.

High above the audience, another ageless diva, trapeze artist Dreya Weber, whirls through the air in a scanty black leather garb. She dangles high and dives low with daring aerial feats. At one point, her long blonde mane dips down into a giant glass of champagne.

Ling Rui flexes his powerful muscles with his astounding gymnastics, while juggler Viktor Kee shows off his amazing acrobatics, balancing and bouncing objects with dancelike sensuality.

Swirling his cape, the sly and silent magician Voronin, decked out vampire-like attire, shares his mesmerizing now-you-see-it-now-you-don’t magic with a comedic flair. He even gets a bit kinky with the pantomime contortionist, Svetlana, when he

turns her into a human marionette.

Waiters and waitresses embellish the action, surrounded by tables and banquettes full of people. And in the middle, around platform ascends and descends, depending on the action.

All this happens as you dine on a luscious five-course dinner. There’s a choice of entrees and an optional “Wine Flight,” a tasting, hand-picked to complement

each course.

The show may be a wee bit pricey, but this critic was utterly transported. Be advised; Temptation begins as you enter the antique tent. The onsite boutique overflows with sparkling, must-have costume jewelry, masks and feathers. And as you advance into the lobby, Zinzanni regulars will recognize set pieces taken from

“Rose Red,” the TV mini-series by Stephen King.

Whether you’re a first-time visitor or a seasoned fan of Teatro ZinZanni, you will be delighted by this three-hour, ooh-la-la escape into a fanciful Folies Bergere. You can almost see the artist Toulouse Lautrec sitting at a corner table, leaning in, sketching

his vibrant images.


Hotel L’amour runs through Sept. 25, Tickets $99-$174, 206-802- 0015 or