Aug 6, 2014

Bread And Circuses: Dinner Entertainment

Lights dim under the red-velvet and gold-brocade tent. Suddenly, sirens wail and lights strobe. “Dessert emergency!” the announcer shouts, as acrobats roll a prop fire truck onto the central stage. They crank up its ladder 30 degrees and begin sliding plates of basil-infused lemon pound cake down its length. At the bottom, waiters intercept the dishes—their whipped-cream swirls still picture-perfect—and fan them onto the audience’s tables.

Teatro ZinZanni remains the poster-child for Seattle’s dinner-entertainment scene, with its world-class comics, musicians and contortionists (zinzanni.com). Rightly so, since founder Norm Langill brought the modern “feast and fancy” concept here in 2000. “Our show—a celebration with food—was supposed to last 10 weeks, but that was 14 years ago,” he laughs. “The initial response was outrageous: the audience had never seen anything like it. The New York Times called it the city’s hottest ticket. We sold out for good six months after that.”

Seattle has unpacked the dinner-and-a-show idea like a carful of clowns… From art to board games and cooking classes, venues across town have added twofer-twists to lure in patrons. Check out my four-page feature in Visit Seattle on the topic.

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