Thursday, March 13, 2014

Teatro ZinZanni’s “On the Air” is a Little Light

The cast of "On the Air." (Photos: Keith Brofsky)
There is no doubt that Teatro ZinZanni’s dinner theatre always puts on a spectacular show with menu to match. The shows regularly feature a snappy host, dazzling acrobats, and great music. Each performance marries the performers and their acts around a loose storyline and everyone leaves happy. However, with the troupe’s latest production of “On the Air”, what begins as a promising new idea ends with some disappointment. This time around, the show inside the spiegeltent is supposed to be centered on an old time radio broadcast. Each night, a different local radio talent starts of the show speaking into an old microphone and reading off cue cards. There is talk of radio programming, commercial jingles and news reports. It’s a very fun idea, but it just doesn’t come together. When I think of old time radio, I think of old timey music, “Who’s on First” type of comedy routines and lots of homemade sound effects. Sadly, this show was lacking in each.

Joel Salom
Don’t get me wrong, the show is still good, just not great like it usually is. However, the stand out performances belongs to Joel Salom and Anki Albertsson. Salom serves as the show’s main announcer and comes across as on heck of a nice guy. He’s also a juggler who does his act so well, that you aren’t sure when his mistakes are real or if they are part of the act. Albertsson has an incredible voice and is very expressive. She can be sexy without over-doing it and totally fits the part. The two are in essence of what make a Teatro ZinZanni experience memorable and gave the show a great start.

There was a fun bit with the “jingle girl,” Juliana Rambaldi, who didn’t want to sing the commercial jingles but instead wanted to sing opera. Salom relented and said that she could sing a special number if she continued to sing all of the jingles. She agreed, but only sang one jingle. So much more could have been done with this bit. Instead, it appeared that they didn’t know quite where to put her.

Anki Albertsson and
Juliana Rambaldi
The acts of the comedy trio Les Petit Freres and acrobat Vita Radionova’s never disappoint, but we have seen them before. (Still, Radionova’s hula-hoop routine never gets old. It’s always spectacular.) The comedy act from the Collins Brothers was uneven with moments where you laughed and others when you just scratched your head.

The biggest disappointment came from odd performances of Kevin Kent who started with a character that represented a snake oil salesman. This was his best performance of the night and the most fitting with the theme. Later, he came out as a weird international spy and finally all dolled up as a queen of hearts drag queen. As is per usual, the show’s emcee’s job is to tell jokes and pull people out of the audience for some teasing and embarrassment. While many enjoyed his performance, I found his humor lacking. His flirting with the male guests became old and his last bit of transforming a straight man in the audience into drag queen seemed to go beyond teasing and ventured in to the humiliation territory. The “victim” was a good sport however. Another time the show went off the rails is when an alien appeared and wanted to go shopping, having nothing to do with the radio theme.
Guest and Kevin Kent

As always, the Teatro ZinZanni show will be a little racy for some and if you are trying to avoid alcohol, this is not the place for you. Nobody will look down on you for not drinking of course, but some in attendance do get a little tipsy.

On the air continues through June 6 with performances at 6:30 p.m. Thursday-Saturdays, 5:30 p.m. on Sundays and select Sunday matinees at 11:30 a.m. Tickets start at $99 ($86 for the matinees) and discounts are available for seniors, military and students. Tickets are available online or by calling the box office at 206.802.0015.

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