Say Hello to Teatro ZinZanni’s “Bonsoir Liliane!”

All aboard the Red Swan Express! Attending Bonsoir Liliane! is like buying a ticket to Teatro ZinZanni’s theatrical train, for an enchanting and entertaining journey to Moscow, Bombay, Paris, and beyond. The train is the vehicle for a night of circus acts, performance art, improv comedy, and play. Lots of play.

Directed by 9-time Tony-Award-winning Tommy Tune, Bonsoir Liliane! is a tribute to Liliane Montevecchi, the legendary actress and dancer who herself won Tony Awards in his productions of Nine and Grand Hotel.

Turning 80 this month, her voice might be faltering slightly, but her charisma and charm remain unfailing. Her appearances are captivating, singing classics like “Send in the Clowns” and “La Vie en Rose,” though her finest moment might be the performance of “La Belle Poitrine” (Beautiful Breasts) while seductively strutting her stuff, even at her advanced age.

Inside a gorgeous old tent of red velvet and mirrors, Kevin Kent plays a train conductor in flamboyant fashion, engaging the audience in an often improvised way and serving as emcee for the series of acts. Bonsoir Liliane! is a bit more of a cabaret than a circus with stunts, though there’s certainly some of that, including contortion, hula hoops, and some sensational acrobatics.

On the song-and-dance side Tobias Larsson, the show’s choreographer, puts in a strong performance, as does former Pacific Northwest Ballet dancer Ariana Lallone.

Even the servers are in on the act, presenting the multiple courses in an artistic way (and I don’t mean plating) and contributing to the show with infectious energy, humor, and hospitality.

As for the food, it’s decent and ample, with choice of entrée and extras available if you’re looking for an all-out splurge. You can also indulge in wine flights. The evening feels like a social affair, and is certainly a special night out. The production runs Thursday-Saturday (with extra shows at times, including some Sweet Sunday Brunch shows) through January 29, 2012 with tickets running $58-160. For those who’ve never been to a Teatro ZinZanni production, Bonsoir Liliane! is a perfect opportunity to say hello to a local treasure.

All photos courtesy of Teatro ZinZanni.