A new spin on Alice in Wonderland–the Lewis Carroll classic tale of a young girl who falls down a rabbit hole (and later looking glass) into a marvelous adventure–is not always a sure thing. Disney made an animated classic of it, then years later had a big money maker live-action version, followed by an unpopular sequel. But Teatro ZinZanni’s Welcome to Wonderland is as wacky, winsome, and yes, wonderful as can be. With a zesty and quick-footed cast led by sultry chanteuse Lady Rizo (aka Amelia Zirin-Brown) as a belting rocking Red Queen, and Clown Prince/Princess Kevin Kent as a the Mad Platter, it would take being clinically depressed to have less than a grand time in ZinZanni’s always enticing Spiegeltent.
The production, as ever built around a sumptuous and scrumptious 4 course meal (with vegetarian options.) features many ZinZanni vets as chameleon-like as ever. From his first appearance in Seattle not so long ago, Aussie artiste Joel Salom (here featured as the time obsessed Jack Rabbit) is an actor/singer/dancer/juggler par-excellence. He could easily be at home in any classic Dick Van Dyke role with his lanky, good-looking presence. Lady Rizo has been around as long as Lady Gaga, and is just as talented. She has a dash of Mae Westian wit and a bold rocker belt. Kevin Kent takes no back seat to Lady R, as he gets to cavort with not only co-stars but is a master manipulator of audience member victims. At the performance attended, a reserved looking fellow proved to be one of the best sports about being dragged (and later forced to dress in drag) onstage. He went along with everything Kent asked him to, the wilder the better, and broke Kent up repeatedly onstage!
Duo Madrona (Ben Wendel and Rachel Nehmer) portray Lewis and Carol, the innocents tricked into a wild trip into Wonderland. Wendel is especially amusing in this guise (even when garbed in an Alice-like frock), and the pair as ever, dazzle with their dance/acrobatic artistry, marking their 10th anniversary season with Teatro ZinZanni. Gael Ouisse and his current life and acrobatic partner Alevtyna Titarenko (they met at Cirque du Soleil) and a more agile, buff pair I have never seen. This pair truly puts a large helping of the wonder in this wonderland, while Teatro ZinZanni newcomer Lea Hinz is smokin’ hot as a Caterpillar dispensing questionable beverage enhancers to suspicious audience members, smoking on her hookah, and deftly performing an expert aerial hoop routine du jour.
Welcome to Wonderland is only for sophisticated children or children with liberal-minded parents. To my mind it would be ok for kids 12 and up. But that suggestion aside, I encourage everyone to descend into the Rabbit hole for a fanciful frolic of a night (or matinee) at Teatro ZinZanni.
Welcome to Wonderland runs through February 26th, 2017 at Teatro ZinZanni (222 Mercer Street and 3rd Ave near Seattle Center). For tickets or information contact the Teatro ZinZanni box office at 206-802-0015 or visit them online at zinzanni.com/seattle