Teatro ZinZanni

Teatro ZinZanni and J/P HRO

0136PennJPBenefit100525 * Notes *
Teatro ZinZanni did a benefit performance for the J/P Haitian Relief Organization last night in San Francisco. Held in a Jugendstil Spiegeltent from 1920 down on Pier 29, the evening began with a couple of songs from Jerry Hannan followed by a short film on Haiti. We heard the Teatro ZinZanni Orchestra throughout the evening, and were introduced to many of the acts by Frank Ferrante, who also did some ridiculous improv as Caesar with 3 members of the audience. His entrance as emperor briefly featured the soprano Rachel DeShon. The other performances included the incredible Vertical Tango from Sam Payne and Sandra Feusi, Liliane Montevecchi singing a saucy number, Ling Rui and Fang Ming in some frightening aerialist acrobatics.

The night also included a few songs from Joan Baez, who sang with great heart and lots of vibrato. Sean Penn spoke a bit about his organization's efforts in Haiti. The focus now seems to be on safely sheltering displaced people before hurricane season is in full swing. This was followed by a supposedly silent auction that involved quite a lot of banter from Robin Williams. At one point Williams kissed someone for $10,000, and Baez someone else for $5,000. An offer for Sean Penn to kiss someone in the place of his or her chosing was not bid upon as far as I could tell. Geoff Hoyle went onstage in an uncomely state of undress, and encouraged Williams to join him, but was thankfully rebuffed. Former mayor of San Francisco Willie Brown did a fine job of collecting more donations in various buckets. About $100,000 was raised.

The aesthetics of this circus involved corsets, hats, and feathers, so I felt right at home. It was impressive that the non-profit Teatro ZinZanni gave this performance gratis, and still more so that so many of the performers contributed to the auction. All in all this was a very surreal and absurd evening.

* Tattling * 
This event happened at the same time as the Barbara Boxer fundraiser at the Fairmont. Understandably, Gavin Newsom was not in attendence at Teatro ZinZanni, opting to go to the event whose attendees included Barack Obama.

There was some talking during the performance, but no electronic noise. Table 13 included a trapeze artist who was once a performer in Teatro ZinZanni, and now teaches at the San Francisco Circus Center. We talked a bit about how lovely the soprano Kristin Clayton is, as she is also a regular performer there.