Summer in Seattle: Teatro Zinzanni, OPL, Pridefest

Greetings once again TWIFers, casual readers, and people who accidentally clicked the wrong Google link! I have returned once more to regale you with tales from my first Summer in Seattle!

It has been busy weekend for me, so bear with me as I barrel through another set of awesome but seemly-unrelated tasks and tangents!

First and foremost, I was given the opportunity to attend a show at the famousTeatro ZinZanni

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Pictures were not permitted inside, so my florid descriptions will have to suffice. Read on and allow me to paint upon the eye of your mind.

The show currently taking place at the Teatro is called “Hail Caesar”, and is supposed to be some kind of creative “re-imagining” of the Caesar/Cleopatra love story. I’m just going to leave that right there, because that information is essentially completely irrelevant.

Why you ask? Because the entire theme is just a backdrop, an excuse to use crazy costumes, give context to the songs, and be roughly generic enough that everyone in the audience can identify the allusions. Seriously, they could have been pirates and not much would have changed.

So I’m going to cut to the chase and break down the important aspects of the show: dinner, performances, and the show. I’ll start with the show, because I don’t really want to linger on that part.

The Show:

I will grant you this: it is entirely possible that I was simply 5 years too young and far too sober to enjoy this aspect of the show, but I seriously would have been much happier if were simply left out.

Don’t get me wrong, the cast members who sang were great, the acting was a good balance of cheesy and sincere, and the songs were certainly tolerable overall. My problem with this aspect of the show was more in that it seemed grossly unnecessary and really just dragged on way too long at times. Oh, and then there were the “interactive” portions.

I know you can’t see me, but a shudder of revulsion just went down my spine writing that. I’m sure it will re-occur every time I read it.

It will always be a mystery to me why dinner theaters think this is necessary. The last thing I want to do when attending a show like this is contend with anxiety over whether some strange man is going to drag me on stage in mid-chew so I can be publicly harassed for the audience’s collective amusement.

Did I mention he touches them? I mean, it wasn’t anything in appropriate, but – you know what? No. Any amount of touching is not okay. I found myself literally wincing every time Caesar put a hand on someone’s shoulder or moved them around or waggled their hands (seriously) or some other nonsense. Not good.

The people he did end up bringing out were good sports about it, but I don’t think it made the whole experience any less awkward. There is a point at which you can tell the audience is laughing not in the “I-honestly-find-this-funny” way, but rather in the “If-we-don’t-laugh-he’s-just-going-to-be-touching-someone-inappropriately-in-the-middle-of-a-crowded-room-oh-god-why” way.

So yeah, they could have left that aspect out in my opinion.

The Food

By now I’m sure at least some of you have checked out the ticket prices and are wondering just what level of food quality you get at that price tag.

It was okay.

This is a general observation given all the separate parts of the meal. The one thing that really stood out to me is that my steak was absolutely perfect, but the other parts of the meal were unmemorable at best. It was also the first time I have had to use my knife on a salad, which irked me for some reason. Seriously though, the steak was awesome.

The Performers

By far, hands down, my favorite part of the show. If it had been this and the food my night would have been great.
If I’d had a table that included some configuration other than a couple, and myself it could have been even better (it was a 3 person table). I think my label on the seating chart must have literally said “third wheel” somewhere.

Cleopatra was an Aerialist named Dreya Weber, and was incredible. You could grate cheese on her abs. The Maître d was a juggler and comedian by the name of Joel Salom, also very talented. There was a Russian performer, Elena Borodina, who was doing a crazy balancing act that I have a hard time describing. And then we have the last two performers, an Israeli Acrobat and juggler named Bernard Hazen and a pair of French Trapeze Artists identified as the Ssens Duo.

These guys were the performers who literally made my jaw drop. There’s a difference between looking as a performer and thinking “wow, that’s really cool!” and thinking “Holy crap, how are they doing that? They are literally doing to die.”

Bernard Hazen did a balancing act at one point that had multiple groups of people around me making bets that he would fall. Immediately after each of said bets, he did another, even more insane balancing act.

Then he started juggling. Dude is nuts.

The Ssens Duo is a pair of acclaimed fixed trapeze performers, and the complexity of their act is what really stood out. If they had come out for every performance of the night, I have no doubt everyone would have left just as satisfied. They were flawless, skilled, and insanely talented.

If nothing else, the performances are worth the price of admission. The food is a nice bonus, and the rest is, well, an inconvenience.

Your mileage may vary.

Operation Sack Lunch

Last Weekend, I had the privilege to work with Operation Sack Lunch as both a volunteer and a TWIF lead. The latter part of which I only found out about an hour before the event started (due to illnesses of both the original lead and the backup). So I ventured out to the Compass Center to work with a group of TWIF volunteers to prepare a hot meal for the gentlemen staying at the Compass Center.

I must say, I was extremely impressed by both our volunteers and by OSL’s head Chef, Paul. The entire experience was awesome, fun, and we kept busy virtually the entire time. I met a great group of volunteers, many of whom showed a great deal of interest in coming back for volunteer work with OSL and TWIF.

I highly encourage anyone interested to check out Operation Sack Lunch at their website, and keep an eye on the TWIF webpage and newsletter for more opportunities to work with them. (They only use organic food and ingredients! Crazy!)

Also, I forgot to take pictures. Moving on!

Seattle Pridefest

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Another situation which is relatively unusual for me, coming from Louisiana, is being in a place so open and accepting of LGBT folks. While New Orleans does have itsSouthern Decadence, which is not so much a parade as a, well… gay Mardi Gras? I’m not really sure. Website may be more helpful than I. By and large, most activities like this are small and infrequent at best.

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Once again, I’m not really sure I can tell you anything about the parade or the festival you don’t already know, but I once again give kudos for being such an open and accepting community.

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Also, just out of curiosity, do all of the parades here have naked bicyclists? Cause I think I’m noticing a trend here. Just sayin’

TWIF is a Generally Awesome Organization

So, Monday was my birthday (woo!) and Amy and a group of TWIFers took me out to play mini-golf and eat delicious hamburgers.

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I can’t thank all of you enough. Being away from the people you know and love for long periods of time can weigh on anyone after a while, and it’s great to know that I already have friends here that care this much.

Thank you guys!

In conclusion, here’s a guy I saw in Pike’s Place Market the other weekend, upping the ante on what I expect from street musicians.

Your move, everyone else.

-By Patrick Killen