Teatro ZinZanni Comes to Woodinville

  • Written by David B. Clark
The Pacific Northwest has long been home to the charming oddities and eccentricities that have delivered travelers and locals alike with feelings of glee, curiosity, and wonder. The rich performing arts history of the Puget Sound region can be cataloged through the roadside attractions of the ‘60s and ‘70s to the polished performances that take place at metropolitan concert halls like McKay and Benaroya. A refined blend of the unique and elegant has just popped up their permanent shop amidst the hills and wineries of the northeast side of Lake Washington. The circus dinner company, Teatro ZinZanni, whose flair for theatrics reaches back to 1998, has a new world headquarters in Woodinville.
Teatro ZinZanni’s brand-new show Hollywood and Vine set off their six-month kick at the beginning of November. This show is simultaneously a spotlight back to some of the performers and mainstays featured on the stages of ZinZanni over the years, and doses of verve and freshness lent by the new home, the new talent, and the unparalleled experience of the debut show. Teatro ZinZanni combines the performances with an artfully crafted culinary evening. It’s dinner and show—and dinner inside of a show. Diners sit circled around an elevated stage but are still very much the focal point of attention. “We’re looking to transport everyone to a completely different world,” said Teatro ZinZanni Executive Director Markus Kunz.
During an uncustomary sunny day in the middle of October, Kunz was kind enough to show me around the new complex.
An antique ticket sales booth—one of the last in the world that invokes memories of the colloquial “Zoltar” fortune teller machines—has been transported to the lobby of the central tent where guests will have the opportunity to mingle after checking in before the show. With a dining room capacity of 285 people, the floor runs circular while towards the back wall a band rehearsed with members beating drums and strumming guitars.
Outside of the central tent, Kunz showed me over to the other buildings which are responsible for allowing Teatro ZinZanni to make this their world headquarters. When Kunz talks about the future of Teatro ZinZanni and the move to Woodinville his eyes expand and he rocks with a steady enthusiasm. Kunz said, “For the first time in ZinZanni history, we have the opportunity to consolidate all of the different parts of the business.” We walked into a huge room with a viewing area on the second level that looked down to where we stood. Kunz explained that this was going to be the training facility for all the performers. Not only are the cast members going to have their own gym to properly train and exercise for their unique acts, the public is going to have the opportunity to watch them. Kunz said he looks forward to using the training area for summer camps and after-school events, too.
From there, he led me into the massive building that once held the Red Hook brewery and restaurant. The plan is to have a completely separate stand-alone, casual but classy restaurant where cast members and everyday customers alike can come and enjoy great food and drink before or after a show. The space itself is set up for a restaurant operation so with a little ZinZanni whimsy, Kunz and his team will bring the space through a metamorphosis that will align with the vision of James Beard award winning chef, Jason Wilson.
Wilson, along with EL Gaucho Hospitality, operates as Fire & Vine Hospitality. Fire & Vine will be taking complete control of the menu at both Teatro ZinZanni’s quintessential circus theatre and this aforementioned unnamed project that is slated to begin operations sometime in 2019.
Kunz explained that both Delille Cellars and Sparkman Cellars have operations in this new complex, too.
From the massive soon-to-be training facility, we moved upstairs where several seamstresses and costume artists were busy sewing and detailing numerous beautiful pieces of work. Kunz turned to me and said, “It’s really cool to have all the creators under one roof. Creatively, it’s just amazing. The prop builders, the costume designers, and all the marketing people are all able to talk to each other in real life. It’s incredible.” Kunz went on to explain how the costumes that will be worn during the Chicago premier – Teatro ZinZanni’s third location that will be opening in spring of 2019 – were the pieces the creators were working away on at their desks.
Kunz and I sat down in one of the green rooms where performers like Seattle rock and roll singer Jan Eyers will soon be preparing to take the stage. I asked Kunz what it meant to him and ZinZanni to find a home in Woodinville and how the company and talent were taking to the change of pace from that of the booming metropolises of Seattle and ZinZanni’s second city, San Francisco. Though some of the cast had just arrived days before, Kunz said that they were really enjoying the homey feel of Woodinville. Kunz explained how the company was dedicated to fostering the best possible atmosphere for local and traveling  talent through every avenue of their operation: from the line cooks in the kitchen to the aerial trapeze performers. Kunz said, “The Woodinville community has been so welcoming. They are completely embracing us as a company, what we do as an art form, and us as individuals. It’s just really friendly. This is our forever home now.”
The company’s motto of “Love, Chaos, and Dinner” exemplifies itself with this mesmerizing synergy of hard work among creatives. The chaos is controlled, the love runs deeply, and dinner is more than a meal but an experience your memory spins back to with the enthusiasm of an acrobat twirling through the evening air to the thunder of applause.
Teatro  ZinZanni
14100 NE 145th St. Woodinville, WA  98072
November 1, 2018 - April 28, 2019 Wednesday-Saturday at 7:00 p.m. Sundays at 6:00 p.m. select Sunday matinees at 11:30 a.m.
Tickets start at $99
(206) 802-0015  

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