Siguenza is brilliantly entertaining as Picasso at Center Rep and Geoff Hoyle is as ribald and funny as one could hope for in Teatro Zinzanni!

Photo of Herbert Siguenza
as Pablo Picasso in Center Repertory Company's "A Weekend with Pablo Picasso" in Walnut Creek!
Photographer: Allesandra Mello

In San Francisco, Teatro ZinZani always equals Love, Chaos & Dinner and exceptional entertainment. On the waterfront since 2000 at the intersection of Piers 27 and 29, the Palsais Nostalgique, a grand mirrored and velvet Spiegeltent (large tent) has provided an intimate, glamorous, glitzy venue for a style of entertainment reminiscent of San Francisco’s yesteryears. Imagine cabaret singers, vaudeville clowns, cirque acts with men and women flying, balancing and bobbing above your heads as you drink and dine and have a marvelous time. In 2001, when Maria Muldaur, the earthy 60’s blues singer, appeared in Teatro ZinZanni, she declared that “ZinZanni is the most fun you can have - - with your clothes on!”

Unfortunately, Madam ZinZanni and her brilliant performers, whose art and entertainment extravaganza has captured center-stage on the San Francisco waterfront entertainment scene for the past 11 years, is humbly preparing to bid a temporary adieu to its present home and the patrons it loves. While the Company is searching for a new permanent location on the San Francisco waterfront, it has pulled out all stops with a spectacular season ending production entitled, “On The Air”, a parody of a radio broadcast company bringing its nightly musical & variety show to the Bay Area. I am not quite sure how such a visually rewarding production could ever fully capture the imagination of radio listeners, but none the less, as in the days before television, a radio listener would have to have a very active and visual imagination to fully grasp the beauty, artistry and chaotic fun delivered in this Spiegeltent (mirrored tent). Thank goodness I did not have to depend on the radio airwaves to deliver the zany ZinZanni magic and magnificent epicurean dining repast that my wife and I wholeheartedly consumed and thoroughly enjoyed.

Broadcasting live from Pier 29, Radio TZ, as it is fondly known from the back alleys of the embarcadero to the Tower of Coit, delivers an evening of entertainment embracing so many enchanting and engaging talents. Heading up this terrific cast, you will find another of the Bay Area’s real treasures, professional actor, master of theatrical delirium and comedian extraordinaire, Geoff Hoyle accompanied by bombastic blues singer, Duffy Bishop. This stellar spectrum of entertainers includes the remarkable Wayne & Andrea Doba (husband and wife performing as a comedy team) whom I would come back to see every year, just for their fun-filled vaudeville styled act. Wayne can take a simple snare drum and make you think that Gene Krupa has come back to life, followed up with a Bo Jangles tap and soft shoe routine that practically steals the show. Andrea can make you change your mind about your favorite “how many _______’s does it take to change a light bulb” routine. It only takes one Andrea, but after watching her do the chandelier repair routine, you will never want to see it done any other way or by anyone else. What a fun and sexy delight!

Please bring on the acrobatic hand balancing expertise of Bernard Hazens, because I want another encore! You can add to this the master balancing and juggling routines of Christopher Phi. Duffy Bishop sings the blues with melodious and earthy guts and gusto, reminding me a little bit of one of my early rock and roll favorites, Janis Joplin. Kristin Clayton adds a rich and wonderful operatic resonance to romance in a der Spiegeltent.
My first delightful encounter with actor Geoff Hoyle as a reviewer, was when he played Arlecchino, in Servant of Two Masters at Berkeley Repertory Theater, probably in 1986 or 1987. He plays a couple of different characters in this show, one of them being an older Scottish maid. Elena Gatilova is an aerialist extraordinaire defying the laws of nature and gravity from high in the air. She appears in the Spiegletent as an interloper from outer space, new to our planet and the San Francisco shopping scene. But, of course as a new tourist in San Francisco, how could an outer-worldly visitor with an interstellar credit card, not enjoy the city by the Bay? Radio Station host, Mat Plende, engages everyone as both the radio show and Spiegletent host, plus throwing in a hoola hoop light show that defies imagination. Watch your lip, don’t talk back, because the very tall, dark and dangerous dominatrix, Manuella Horn, (also known as the Austrian Amazon), dances, yodels and wields a mean whip! Even the Teatro ZinZanni orchestra is delicious, good enough to eat - - although that would be a tall order!

When it came to the delicious dinner, Karen and I both chose the mesquite grilled fillet of beef, which came with spinach and English cucumber salad, acorn squash and apple soup, and spice cake desert - - - um-m-m-m- good! The food is truly an epicurean delight which is amazing when they can produce such excellent food for so many and make it work properly.

This outrageous and extraordinary production is a fitting encore to the company’s eleven year stay in San Francisco, but you still have time to take it in before it goes away. The final show is scheduled for December 31st, but if you go to their web page at you can purchase tickets and review show times. I believe I have attended their shows on at least 6 occasions in the past 11 years and never yet have I seen an empty seat. It is not cheap, but quality in every aspect and spectacular performance is always their credo. Tickets are available for Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays for “On The Air”, and their final Halloween show, on the 31st entitled, Teatro Zin Zombie. Call (415) 438-2668 for additional information. Tickets range between $117 each to $195 for show and dinner. If you have never seen this wild and wonderful show, in any of its iterations, then by all means, it is the ultimate in outrageous excellence!

"Sequenza is a highly entertaining Pablo Picasso in Walnut Creek"!

Now, back on earth, there was no one more earthly or unabashedly unique than Pablo Picasso when it came to him expressing his opinion or painting in his own inimitable style. Adding his own uniqueness to the Picasso mystique, Culture Clash’s own matchless actor and author, Herbert Siguenza, delivers an extraordinary performance in Center Repertory Theater’s superbly crafted one man production, “A Weekend with Pablo Picasso”.

Picasso was a Spanish expatriate, painter, sculptor, printmaker, ceramicist, and stage designer for the ballet. He is considered to be one of the greatest and most influential artists of the 20th century. He is widely known for co-founding the Cubist movement and for the wide variety of styles that he helped develop and explore. Among his most famous works are the proto-Cubist Les Demoiselles d'Avignon (1907), a cubist painting of five Barcelona prostitutes with distorted and mask like faces and Guernica (1937), a portrayal of the German bombing of Guernica by the “volunteer aviators” from the “Legion Condor group” during the Spanish Civil War.

He was very fortunate in that his art became highly desired and very valuable early in his career. Picasso was certainly one of the few painters who retained a great many of his very valuable art pieces and became a very wealthy man. At his death, he owned and had in his possession over 50,000 works of his own art, in many different media forms. He indeed was a collector and hoarder of his own work and of many disassociated objects that he considered he could use in his art work. He superstitiously believed that as long as he could continue to produce and retain his own work, he would never die.

I had never been a real fan or aficionado of Picasso. I did not comprehend Picasso’s unique message to the world, a message that simply says that nothing in real life is a perfect replication of a similar object in nature; no two eyes are the same, no two oranges are the same, so why should art or an artist mirror nature exactly? However, after seeing this excellent production by Mr. Siquenza, I have become very fascinated with Picasso and find myself now seeking more information on this artist.

Herbert Siguenza is an artist in his own right, demonstrably so in this production, as he actually creates works before the audience, right on stage during the show. Mr. Siquenza certainly has written this play with great understanding, knowledge and admiration of Pablo Picasso. Siguenza truly brings this character into our century, bringing with his work an admiration for the artist and an acquaintance with the controversial passion so pervasive in Picasso the individual, and as well as in Picasso, the artist.

This is an excellent production, with scenic design well imagined by Giulio Cesare Perrone, very artfully and well directed lighting by Ross Glanc, and truly outstanding multimedia projection design by multimedia visionary, Victoria Petrovich.

This very exciting and well-paced production, “A Weekend with Pablo Picasso”, plays Wednesdays at 7:30 p.m., Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m., with Sunday performances at 2:30 p.m., closing on November 19th, with the 8 p.m. performance. Tickets are a very reasonable $19 to $43 each. For ticket ordering, you may call 943-SHOW (7469) or visit the Center Repertory Company web site at The Margaret Lesher theater is located in the Dean Lesher Regional Center for the Arts at 1601 Civic Center Drive, Walnut Creek.