Teatro ZinZanni 'On the Air' for last time at Pier 27

High energy: Artists in Teatro ZinZanni’s “On the Air” will sing

High energy: Artists in Teatro ZinZanni’s “On the Air” will sing

On Dec. 31, after more than a decade, Teatro ZinZanni is closing up shop on San Francisco’s piers 27 and 29.

Art and food lovers who haven’t yet experienced this one-of-a-kind dinner theater may want to take the opportunity to check out “On the Air,” the final show at the location.

Starring Bay Area stalwarts, blues singer Duffy Bishop and actor/clown Geoff Hoyle, this show isn’t the best ZinZanni offering of some 40 productions in 11 years. At the same time, it does offer the “love, chaos and dinner” promised in ads, and those who haven’t yet seen it may want to check out its wild mix of circus, vaudeville and fine dining in an authentic European spiegeltent on the waterfront.

In the wake of America’s Cup preparations forcing the show off the pier, ZinZanni president Norm Langill says the nonprofit troupe is working with The City to find a new location and in the process of raising $4 million needed to accommodate and move and continue operations.

As in some previous ZinZanni incarnations, “On the Air” has a loosely themed, sometimes incomprehensible story line that accompanies music, stunts and audience-participation comedy.

A constant in every show is the impeccable meal service for nearly 300, which is almost as exciting as the contortionists and acrobats. It’s no small feat getting five delicious courses (the hot ones really are hot) to so many people in a timely fashion. The wait staff, who also perform, are unsung heroes.

But what’s missing from “On the Air” is the riotous, spontaneous interactive comedy of earlier ZinZanni productions in which headliners plucked funny, not always eager folks from the audience into the spotlight — such as the ZinZanni chef making a salad on a bald man’s head.

On opening night, Hoyle, as both an old-time radio announcer, and a large-bosomed Scottish lady, got limited mileage by dancing with a few women and getting one fellow to dress up like a herring.

Seventeen musical numbers — the most successful being Bishop’s duet with guitarist Chris Carlson on “Baby You’ve Got What It Takes” — supplied the bulk of the show, which, as always, included circus stunts.

With thin, corny comedy, the performers, doing double duty, fared better with the tricks. Acrobats Andrea Conway, Elena Gatilova, Bernard Hazans, Christopher Phi, tap dancer Wayne Doba and hula hooper Matt Plendl were amazing.

Yet at three hours, “On The Air” feels long, despite valiant efforts by the enthusiastic, talented and versatile cast. In the illustrious history of Teatro ZinZanni, it should go down as the last show at Pier 27, and, one hopes, and a precursor of more crazy, tasty shenanigans in The City.

THEATER REVIEW

On the Air

Presented by Teatro ZinZanni

Where: Piers 27-29, The Embarcadero, San Francisco

When: 6 p.m. Wednesdays-Saturdays, 5 p.m. Sundays; closes Dec. 31

Tickets: $117 to $195

Contact: (415) 438-2668, http://love.zinzanni.org

artsentertainmentGeoff HoyleTeatro ZinZanni

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

San Francisco Park Ranger have seen their budget and staffing levels increase significantly since 2014. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Citations for being in SF’s public parks after midnight soar

Data shows disproportionate impact on Black residents

Parents and students line up socially distanced before the first day of in-person learning at Bret Harte Elementary School on Monday, April 12, 2021. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
‘It’s a beautiful sight’: The first students return to the classroom

San Francisco’s youngest public school students stepped into classrooms for in-person learning… Continue reading

File
Latest Breed nominee for Police Commission moves forward

Immigration attorney Jim Byrne clears Board of Supervisors committee

A rally at Golden Gate Park on Sunday April 11 drew a large crowd in support of calls to keep JFK Drive closed to traffic. (Emily Huston/Special to the S.F. Examiner)
Hundreds rally for “JFK Thrive,” not JFK Drive

By Emily Huston More than two hundred gathered on a warm Sunday… Continue reading

San Francisco Giants pitcher Anthony DeSclafani (26) starts against the Colorado Rockies at Oracle Park on April 11, 2021 in San Francisco, California. (Photography by Chris Victorio | Special to the S.F. Examiner).
Giants finish sweep of Rockies behind DeSclafani’s scoreless outing

Even with fans back at Oracle Park, San Francisco Giants pitchers have… Continue reading

Most Read