SAN FRANCISCO

Teatro ZinZanni Ousted: America's Cup Forces Out Local Institution

10/13/2011 08:08 pm ET | Updated Dec 13, 2011

After over a decade delighting audiences from its perch on the edge of the bay, San Francisco's premiere vaudeville/cabaret/dinner theatre experience is about to launch what may be its final show ever.

Like many other local businesses making their home along the Embarcadero, Teatro ZinZanni is being forced to vacate the space on Pier 29 it has occupied for eleven years to make way for the new developments the Port of San Francisco has planned for when the city hosts the America's Cup in 2013.

Performances of the final show at the waterfront location, entitled On the Air, begin on October 14th and run though the end of the year.

A post on the company's ticketing website details what guests have in store:

Tune in for a nostalgic journey of music, cirque and cabaret starring Bay Area icon Geoff Hoyle and blues phenomenon Duffy Bishop in a storyline that echoes Teatro ZinZanni's efforts to remain in San Francisco. When a local radio station lacks the funds to stay on the air, the ambitious staffers open a restaurant to keep the station swinging. ZinZannity quickly ensues with dazzling music, dance and acrobatic performances, accompanied by a gourmet dinner.

The city says it is doing what it can to find a new location for the non-profit arts company, which has quickly become a San Francisco institution in the years since it was brought down from Seattle at the behest of former Mayor Willie Brown.

"Working together with city leaders, we are determined to find a permanent home in San Francisco—for Teatro ZinZanni is now part of the terrific fabric of cultural institutions that give this city its unparalleled reputation for arts and culture," said Teatro ZinZanni President and Artistic Director Norm Langill. "Our show mirrors the spirit of this city—a magical place that embraces silliness, frivolity, fun, intimacy and self expression. We’ll be back. This is home."

Theatro ZinZanni is one of approximately 80 businesses being displaced by preparations for world's most high-profile yacht race. The city is working with all the of the affected businesses to find new homes; however, Teatro ZinZanni's century-old mirrored tent is proving more difficult to accommodate than most.

Port Special Projects Manager Brad Benson said the only spaces large enough to fit their operation north of the Ferry Building are parking lots—many of which were just leased to new operators. He noted that with the America’s Cup plan, the Port will lose four full piers on the northern waterfront, and it won’t be possible to find homes on Port property in the immediate vicinity for all of their tenants.

"If we're going to find new spaces for these tenants being displaced by the America's Cup, it's going to be a guiding principle that we don't displace other tenants to do that," Benson said.

The Port of San Francisco was already in the process of pushing Teatro ZinZanni out of its current location—before the city won the bid to host the America's Cup, there were plans to eventually turn to the site into a terminal for cruise ships. However, the event pushed the eviction schedule forward, well before the company could find a suitable new venue.

The plans, pushed heavily by Oracle billionaire Larry Ellison, call for the affected pier to be converted into a public viewing area for the race.

According to the Bay Citizen, if a new location is not found in time, the entire show may be shut down permanently.

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