Teatro ZinZanni brings European-style Cabaret to Chicago


(Published Aug. 31, 2019)

By Elisa Shoenberger

Love, Chaos and Dinner.

That’s the tagline for Chicago’s newest cabaret show, Teatro ZinZanni. This dinner and a show aims to deliver on all three.  A variety of performances include circus acts, clowning performances and song and dance numbers through a multi-course dinner, catered by the Goddess and the Grocer.

Founded in 1998 by Norman Langill, Teatro ZinZanni is inspired by the European cabarets. Langill said he wanted to “create an intimate relationship with the artists.” Teatro ZinZanni currently has shows running in Seattle and San Francisco. 

The show takes place on the 14th floor of the Cambria Hotel, 32 W. Randolph St., in a space discovered in 2017 when the hotel was doing renovations. Langill had been looking for the right place in Chicago for ten years and when the former Masonic temple was found, “it was a natural,” for the show. Langill said. Now the space is renovated to become the “Spiegeltent ZaZou” described by ZinZanni press as a “Belgium mirror tent filled with unique, historic touches.”

The three-hour show has a show within a show feeling as the antics of its performers and wait staff start before the show officially begins. Performers wander around dressed as wait staff and cooks and interact with the customers between the official acts and during the dinner courses. 

“The food and the waitstaff have to be integrated in the experience. They are the support cast for the evening,” Langill said. “It has to be integrated and seamlessly connected to the show so there is only one experience you are having, not two.”

The “hosts” of Teatro ZinZanni are The Caesar, played by Frank Ferrante, and sultry singer Madame ZinZanni, performed by Rizo. They are accompanied by a live band with music reminiscent of Édith Piaf and jazz classics. “Lady Rizo is a force of nature.” 

Rachel Karabenick, a circus performer who attended the show, remarked. “Her voice, her poise, her humor—everything about her performance was simply stunning. I’d say she is one of the best performers I have ever seen live.”

The cabaret presents performers from around the world along with local artists from Chicago. Samuel and Sylvia are local performers known as Duo Rose who perform on doubles trapeze. 

The show will continue through the end of September and a new show “Decadent Delights” with a diner theme will begin in October.

Back to school can be stressful for students—and parents need to look for the signs

(Published Aug. 31, 2019)

By Jesse Wright

For parents, a new school may reduce stress as the kids leave home for the better part of the day. But for students, it could be a different story. 

A new school, or just a new school year, can bring on subtle signs of stress and anxiety which can lead to trouble.

Simple things, like sleep trouble, can cause—or be a sign of—problems for a student, according to Emma K. Adam, a Northwestern professor of human development and a faculty fellow at the Institute for Policy Research.

“That’s something that is both a reflection of stress and contributes to more stress,” Adam said. “So that’s one area I would suggest intervening.”

Sleep problems can be caused by something as simple as a return to a school schedule, and they can create a host of problems for the student.

“When you’re thinking about the back to school transition, it’s important to get a child’s routine on track prior to beginning school,” Adam said. “It can lead to a form of jet lag to suddenly switch your child’s schedule to a much earlier wake up time. When they have that jet lag, essentially when they’re sleepy or they’re short on sleep [and] they’re less able to engage in social relationships.”

Adam said research has shown adolescents tend to fall asleep later, meaning getting a solid sleep is difficult even under the best of situations when facing early school days.

“There is, in adolescence, a biological shift where they don’t get sleepy until later at night and that runs up against the early start times for high schoolers,” Adam said. 

“It’s not just the social demands that are keeping adolescents up late, it’s actually harder for them to fall asleep,” she said. “But you can slowly change you adolescents to get them on track to a slightly earlier bedtime.”

Adam said some adolescents don’t want to talk about emotional problems, so they hide what they’re feeling. Even so, parents shouldn’t be afraid to talk to their child if they see behavioral changes.

“By adolescence, kids can be good at hiding emotions,” she said. “But parents can see it turn into anxiety and depression, or the adolescent may be less interested in activities.

“Some kids can express stress by externalizing problems, through anger and lashing out. Whenever you see a major change in a child, it might be time to sit them down and find out what’s going on in their lives.”