Picking up where Teatro ZinZanni left off, the newest attraction under the medium top (that is, the classic circus-meets-Victorian-bordello spiegeltent in the Hotel Cambria), Cabaret ZaZou’s Luminaire is pretty much the same thing—but still a good option if you’re looking to splash out on a downtown extravaganza. Under the tent’s glittery mirrors and chandeliers, a contortionist (the astounding Ulzii Mergen) contorts, a clown (the inimitable Frank Ferrante, formerly known as “the Caesar” with ZinZanni) cavorts, and juggler Viktor Kee and aerialists Trio Vortex keep balls and their bodies moving overhead with astonishing precision.
Luminaire Open run: Wed-Sat 7 PM, Sun noon, Hotel Cambria, 32 W. Randolph, 312-488-0900, broadwayinchicago.com, $75-$185 (most tickets include meal)
With blistering chief vocalists James Harkness and Liv Warfield blasting the tent’s roof off with renditions of “What’s Goin’ On,” “Willow Weep for Me,” and “Father Figure,” the music blends soul, jazz, rock, and pop as a soundtrack for the featherweight storyline involving Ferrante’s bellboy, Fortissimo, trying to find and win the forgiveness of his lost love. With the help of volunteers from the audience, he enacts rituals from his hometown in Italy’s “Feast of Forgiveness,” which at one point involves a cunning rendition of “The Impossible Dream,” played on desk bells.
It’s all very silly stuff, but Ferrante remains an ingratiating host and a dab hand at finding the right volunteers and putting them at ease. And the circus acts are as breathtaking as ever. If you’ve already seen ZinZanni and loved it, the show’s for you. If you haven’t but are in the mood for a lighthearted performance with heartstopping interludes of circus arts, then Luminaire can light the way to a fun night out.