Why You Should See Your Neighbor Manuela Horn At Teatro Zinzanni

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by Scott Schaefer

We had the pleasure recently of seeing our favorite B-Town area neighbor Manuela Horn perform in “Radio Free Starlight,” the current production at Seattle’s Teatro Zinzanni, and we must say – she and her castmates really rocked the house Spiegeltent!

Manuela, who was recruited by the folks at Zinzanni and brought to the US from Berlin in 2001, not only brings amazing comedic timing to the table, but she also brings elements of her imposing 6’2″ Yodeling Dominatrix act that a lot of our Readers know and love.

Oh, and if you’re lucky, she may just stop by your table to spank you.

But Manuela isn’t the only reason to attend – if you’ve never attended a Zinzanni show, here’s an idea of what to expect:

  • A sumptuous, five-course feast of a dinner by Celebrated Northwest chef Tom Douglas. Tom is Executive Chef and owner of Dahlia Lounge, Etta’s Seafood, Lola, the Palace Kitchen and, most recently, Serious Pie restaurants.
  • Amazing ambience in a 100-year old historic ‘Spiegeltent,’ located just across from the Seattle Center on Mercer Street. It’s about a 20-minute drive from the Burien area using the 509/99 Viaduct “secret freeway” to the Western Ave exit down to Mercer.
  • A hilarious, well-produced vaudeville-style production that will astound you and make you laugh at nearly ever turn.
  • An amazingly-talented cast that really “works the room” – that is, in-between acts they’ll actually come to your table, sit down, talk, crack jokes, or even make flowers for you out of packing tape!
  • Humorous crowd interaction where YOU can actually be in the show!
  • Great music, from legendary Seattle blues singer Duffy Bishop, who belts out several wonderful tunes, including a version of the Beatles’ “In My Life” that brought tears to my Mom’s eyes, all backed by a top-notch band led by legendary Seattle Music Director Norman Durkee.
  • Did we mention the excellent five-course dinner and the chance of being spanked by Manuela?

Our personal experience was a dinner date with our 81-year old Mom, who just loved the show. One reason could be that it’s centered around a “live” radio show, with nervous actors, hosts, producers and others scrambling to make sure everything goes right. Since Mom grew up listening to radio way back before there was wi-fi or Netflix, many moments in the show really resonated with her. There’s music. There’s acrobats hanging from the ceiling doing an awkward mating ritual. There’s a juggling segment that is astounding. One guy plays a real Theremin. There’s an amazing, sexy acrobat woman who plays a Martian. There’s plate spinning. There’s even an amazing hula hoop segment by Mat Plendl, with lit, glow-in-the-dark hoops that will blow your mind, all done to one of the rockinest Big Band tunes of all time, Benny Goodman’s “Sing Sing Sing” – here’s a video of him rehearsing:

Oh, and remember your Server? That’s her out on the floor with the actors doing a choreographed musical number, serving salads, or the main course, in a rehearsed dance sequence with her co-workers! You see, everyone who works at Teatro Zinzanni is in the show, from the Servers to the forlorn-looking woman in the French maid costume (wait, is she an actress or a waitress?) to that tall, lost-looking 6’2″ (or taller in heels) “Server” (wait, that’s Manuela!) who seemingly can’t find the table she’s supposed to deliver a tray of drinks to.

There’s always something going on in this tent, no matter where you look.

Then there’s the Host, a little comedian named Joe De Paul who commands your attention every time he appears on the scene as cooking host “Ricky Fine.” He may be short, but his expert comedy chops are huge, especially when he does his solo impression of the climactic scene from “King Kong” (yes, you read that last sentence correctly) – this scene gets so absurd, and Joe commits himself to the role so strongly that you may end up laughing so hard, you’ll be happy they don’t serve milk here, otherwise it’d spurt out your nose. I’m serious.

The current show runs through May 8th. Ticket prices range from $106 to $141 per person, which includes the five-course dinner and the amazing 3+ hour show – you can order tickets online here – and believe me, it’s worth every penny.

From their website:

Torch singer Duffy Bishop retakes center ring as Madame ZinZanni, owner of the tent and singing star for Radio KTZ. With her motley restaurant staff of clowns, she and comedian Joe De Paul broadcast nightly into the cosmos with some inter-galactic surprises.

Directed by Norm Langill, Radio Free Starlight features hula-hoop champion and performance artist Mat Plendl, rolo bola and juggling acrobat Bernard Hazens, comic trapeze duo the Die Maiers, the yodeling dominatrix Manuela Horn, opera singer Juliana Rambaldi and newcomer aerialist Danielle Rueda-Watts.

Part circus, part dinner theatre, Teatro ZinZanni is a big night out unlike any other, a three and a half hour whirlwind of international cirque, comedy and cabaret artists all served up with a five-course feast designed by celebrated Northwest chef Tom Douglas. An ever-evolving and constantly changing production, Teatro ZinZanni combines improv comedy, vaudeville revue, music, dance, cirque and sensuality into a dizzying and colorful new form that is never quite the same from evening to evening. The fast-paced action of the show unfolds above, around and even alongside the audience as they dine on a gourmet meal. Teatro ZinZanni is guaranteed to dazzle.

Don’t forget to “Like” Manuela on Facebook here.

Here are some videos of some of the performers in action:

Sexy Acrobat Danielle Rueda-Watts performing:

Duffy Bishop belting one out:

Duffy Bishop in Teatro ZinZanni from Teatro ZinZanni on Vimeo.

Our own interview with Manuela Horn:

Manuela’s landmark appearance on “America’s Got Talent”:


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