Our critics weigh in on local theater

Teatro ZinZanni. It's no wonder that this popular dinner-theater extravaganza of "love, chaos, dinner" has a special place in the hearts of locals and city newbies alike. Set in a 1920s vintage big-top tent, ZinZanni offers guests a taste of cabaret, vaudeville, and circus merriment. A cast of ever-rotating characters regales audience members with flirty high jinks: illusionists, contortionists, and aerial dancers peddle their magic while also making sure to badger the guests, not in a bad Vegas nightclub way, but with an air that's as endearing as it is cheesy. The best thing is that everyone who works there is somehow tied into the show; waitresses dance and do can-can routines as they bring out the grub (a rich, five-course prix fixe that's a little French, a little Italian, and a little Californian). ZinZanni's show won't offend or make anyone's fur bristle; and while arty innovation isn't their forte, the performance is a lighthearted, old-fashioned romp that offers a welcome reprieve from the somberness of, say, a night at the opera. Open-ended run at Pier 29, Embarcadero at Battery. Tickets are $116-140. Call 438-2668 or visit www.zinzanni.org. (Nirmala Nataraj)

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