Big Top Rock at Teatro ZinZanni is back for its third series of performances in the elegant spiegeltent. If you’re not familiar with this fantastic show the ZinZanni Institute for Circus Arts (ZICA) and Seattle’s own Kindiependent music collectivehave brought together the magic of the circus with the excitement of live music.
So far this series has featured Caspar Babypants and The Harmonica Pocket but it promises more fun to come with The Not-Its, Recess Monkey, The Board of Education, and Johnny Bregar and the Country Dawgs. The show I went to with my kids featuring Caspar Babypants was wildly entertaining but we’ve also had the pleasure to see The Harmonica Pocket, Recess Monkey, and Johnny Bregar and I can guarantee the level of quality of the music makes these shows well worth the time for both parents and kids. I’ve come down pretty hard on Raffi and other more traditional kids music in the past and if I’ve been too harsh it’s only because my ears have been bleeding from the high-fructose overload of the Itsy-Bitsy Spider and its sisyphean journey up and down that waterspout. These acts are not above occasionally putting their own spin on the old classics but they also bring wonderfully creative originals like Caspar Babypants’ Googly Eyes and My Flea Has Dogs.
No less impressive than the music is the marvelous athleticism of ZinZanni’s circus acts, which typically feature an amazing ZICA student along with ZinZanni’s professional performers. This time we were rewarded with three young performers, 9-year-old breakdancer Sean Steady, tap-dancer Anabel Watson, and aerialist Una Bennett. All three delivered impressive performances but I found Una Bennett’s rope act to be the most spectacular. The kids in the audience had already expressed an interest in seeing someone swinging from the top of the tent and Una delivered.
The professional performances are handled with aplomb. Christopher Phi appears in the role of the ringmaster, dancing with Sean Steady and wowing the audience with his hand-balancing routine. Pacific Northwest Ballet principal dancer Ariana Lallone appears as an ice princess dancing in a snowfall center-stage.
The show is recommended for ages 3-10 and I would definitely encourage it for parents of kindergarten and pre-schoolers, although my 9-year-old daughter was totally caught up in it. She did comment that “there are a lot of songs about diapers” and during the pre-show circus games run by ZICA staff members she was a little self-conscious towering over the other kids as they balanced feathers on their hands, jumped through hula hoops, and juggled hats. But after the show, her hair full of confetti snow, she wasn’t going to leave without getting her picture taken with Ariana Lallone. It’s a testament to the magic of the performance that it can bring out the little kid in all of us – even very mature 9-year-olds.
Big Top Rock is the perfect opportunity for young children to experience live music in a venue that feels like an evening of cabaret at a kid-friendly hour in the morning. Don’t miss it!
If you go
222 Mercer Street, Seattle
10:00am – Doors Open (pre-show circus games, snacks, meet the bands)
11:00am – Performance
Sunday, December 23
Friday, January 4
Saturday, January 5
Recess Monkey & The Board of Education
Sunday, January 6
Recess Monkey & Johnny Bregar and the Country Dawgs
Booth Seating: $19
Chair Seating: $24
Kids are encouraged to sit in the mosh pit in front of the stage. They can be managed by parents during the performance more easily from the chair seating.
Children 0-12 months are free with paid adult admission
Box Office: 206-802-0015