Seattle's Child

Your guide to a kid-friendly city

A Parent’s Review: ‘In Tents’ at Teatro ZinZanni

If your children enjoy a carnival atmosphere and energetic "kindie" rock music, they'll love In Tents, the new production at Teatro ZinZanni for children 10 and younger. If they're hoping for a circus, they may be disappointed. This is a rock concert, by wildly popular local elementary school teachers/musicians Recess Monkey, with a few circus acts interspersed.

An hour before the performance, the pre-show carnival gives kids a chance to play simple games, such as a ring toss over a bunny's ears, to win prizes ($2 per ticket; one ticket per game; five games to play; a winner every time). Some games were in the lobby and some were in the colorful spiegltent so that no one was crowded. Enthusiasm ran high.

Once the performance started, kids were invited to gather in a special area between the stage and the main circus platform, and most kids older than 3 took advantage of that offer. They jumped, twirled and danced to Recess Monkey's three opening numbers, including the bouncy "Popcorn" and sit-down-jump-up-and-spin-around "Tilt-a-Whirl." The Bear (Korum Bischoff in costume) and the funny circus master/strong man Peter Pitofsky mugged a bit for the crowd. So far, my 7-year-old friend Logan, not a rock music fan, was not that impressed.

Then he saw Saffi Watson. She's a 10-year-old acrobat/dancer/contortionist from Bellevue, and she is amazing – world-class amazing. Her lyrical and graceful contortionist act with a teddy bear made us wonder, "How in the world does she do that? And how can she make it look effortless?" Later Logan stood right under the suspended hoop she used for her in-air acrobatic number, his hands clasped and his eyes open in wonder. She was the best thing about the show, he said.

The juggler, funny Sergey Krutikov, did wonderful things with neon-colored sequined hats and other objects. Logan said it looked easy to toss the hat up in the air and catch it on his head, but a volunteer child from the audience found it impossible to do. A funny act with Pitofsky involved vaulting a child – who was celebrating his birthday – up into the air, but there was a trick in it (Logan said he saw it coming, but I won't give it away.) Although she's promoted on the program, the marvelous Ariana Lallone, a former principal dancer for Pacific Northwest Ballet and star of the adult cabarets, was underutilized here as a wizard, having one short dance number.

The show ended with more "intense, in tents" singing, dancing and hand-clapping. The new Recess Monkey album, In Tents, will be released June 19; listen to excerpts at or check out our Seattle's Child parent review on the CD. The show is billed for ages 10 and younger, and most in attendance were 3 to 8. It's a fun chance to dress up in outrageous costumes, if your child likes doing that. Popcorn, snacks and box lunches are available for sale in the lobby.

Wenda Reed is a Seattle-area writer and theater-lover.



Where: The big tent across from Seattle Center at 222 Mercer St., Seattle (parking in the Mercer Garage across the street).

When: May 12 and 19; June 2, 23 and 24; July 14 and 15. Pre-show carnival, 10 – 11 a.m.; show, 11 a.m. – 12:15 p.m.

Admission: $19-$22.

Coming up: Camp ZinZanni week-long circus act workshops for ages 4-17 in July and August (the session in June is sold out). The adult cabaret show iCaliente! runs through June 10.

Contact: 206-802-0015;

Wenda Reed is a Seattle-area writer and theater-lover.