The stakes aren’t too high in Lucky in Love, the latest entertainment extravaganza under the big top at Teatro Zinzanni, and that’s a good thing. An effortlessly diverting soufflé of a revue, the show is at its best when it dispenses with its shoestring narrative entirely – some half-baked nonsense about a casino that needs a new act and a burglar determined to clean the place out is eventually disposed of in favor of a combination circus/comedy/concert act where no seat is safe from the specter of audience interaction. That’s a big part of what makes a night out at Teatro Zinzanni so fun: even though the show shuffles around familiar elements, there’s always the potential for unpredictability, whether it’s courtesy of a conscripted audience member or cast ad-libbing.
Everyone involved here is a total pro, and the production’s pacing has clearly been refined to perfection, interspersing a nearly nonstop barrage of stimulation with a four-course dinner in an evening where the three-plus hours just fly by. De facto emcee (and co-director) Joe De Paul is a comic dynamo; in an evening of thrilling stunts and amazing physical feats, it’s his humorous interstitials, including a King Kong recreation that’s as hilarious as it is low-concept, that threaten to steal the show.
As casino owner Ruby, blues singer Francine Reed is a commanding presence, with a voice so rich and powerful, I found myself wishing the evening would transition into a concert featuring her alone. Of course, that would have meant missing out on the wholly impressive acrobatic acts: trapeze artists Duo Madrona, contortionist Vita Radionova, and tumbling trio Les Petit Freres, all of whom are in a seeming competition to top one another with their respective acts.
So-called “dinner theater” is of course, hardly considered a respectable player in the theater world, but Teatro ZInzanni’s Lucky in Love is a kind of latter-day vaudevillian spectacular, affably kitschy and altogether entertaining. The show is on stage through Sept. 8. Tickets are available for purchase online.