Seattle’s long-running cabaret/dinner theater Teatro Zinzanni has been drawing crowds to its elegant vintage tent on lower Queen Anne since 2007.
The tent sits on land just north of Seattle Center; the land was given to Seattle Opera as potential funding source for a new home adjacent to Marion Oliver McCaw Hall.
The Opera’s construction project was put on hold when the Great Recession hit, but in 2015, the organization revived its plans and decided to sell the valuable parcel of land.
Late last year, the Opera signed a purchase agreement with Washington Holdings and told Teatro Zinzanni that the dinner theater had to be off the property by March 15.
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Teatro’s founder and artistic director, Norm Langill, wants the developers to let his tent stay on its current site while they go through Seattle's permit process. But project manager Maria Barrientos says that's impossible. She says Teatro had plenty of advance notice about the sale.
“We wish them the best in finding another site,” Barrientos says, “but I think I can say it’s been very clear their lease expired on March 15.”
Langill doesn’t dispute that fact, but he says even if Teatro Zinzanni secures a new site in Seattle, it will take months to rebuild there. That means the popular show will have to close temporarily, laying off up to 100 people.
Teatro Zinzanni has been soliciting public support for a temporary lease extension; so far the long-running production has signed on a broad array of people, everyone from Heart’s Ann Wilson to restaurateur Tom Douglas.
Says Langill “I think it’s important, as the city adapts to change, that it also makes sure its beloved cultural treasures should be part of the future of the city.”
Meanwhile, developer Maria Barrientos hopes to quick start her mixed-income residential project as soon as Teatro Zinzanni vacates in March.