‘Luminaire’ delivers a wildly entertaining evening of song, cirque and more

The Instagram-friendly crescent moon remains in the lobby on the 14th floor of the Cambria Hotel, although the signage above now reads Cabaret ZaZou rather than Teatro ZinZanni. The basic structure of the spectacular, two-hour-plus “Cabaret ZaZou presents Luminaire” remains similarly on-brand for Randolph Entertainment LLC, which has made a business of bringing world-class circus artists to the lavish “Spiegeltent” installed in the boutique hotel.

Like ZinZanni, “Luminaire” features a dazzling parade of contortionists, acrobats, jugglers and extraordinary aerialists in a venue so intimate you can see them sweat. As before, the circus acts are woven together by a loveable clown (played by ZinZanni star Frank Ferrante) and live music. All is accompanied by a decent four-course meal and the opportunity to drop some serious coin on a gift shop tiara.

‘Cabaret ZaZou presents Luminaire’

But where Teatro ZinZanni was a confection as substantial as bubbles, “Luminaire,” directed by Dreya Weber, has some bite along with feel-good giggles and mind-blowing acts of Dare-deviltry.

Nowhere is the shift in tone more striking than in a juggling act from Ukraine-born Viktor Kee, who materializes onstage as some kind of Prometheus unbound, otherworldly and stone-faced in a bodysuit as seamless and form-fitting as body paint.

Globes of light the size of oranges materialize between his fingers, dance over his spine, arc overhead like fireflies in increasingly complex configurations before the glowing circles start dropping from above like a hailstorm. Kee ends by lurching forward in a pose simultaneously defiant and beseeching, one stretched arm thrusting an orb of light to the audience before a blackout.

The nominal theme of “Luminaire” is that we are all at a “feast of forgiveness,” and there are particular rites and rituals dealing with such. So explains Ferrante as Forte the clown. Ferrante’s irresistible, working the crowd and deftly managing brazenly handsy audience members as he gets everyone up to dance to a Beyonce hit. The “At Last” slow-jam comes courtesy of Liv Warfield, who along with James Harkness, provide powerhouse vocals throughout the show.

Music director Chuck Webb and his crackerjack quintet create a palette of rhythm, blues, soul, rock and pop and old-school gems. The opening volley of tunes including the mischievous, toe-tapping “Minnie the Moocher” make the place feel like a rollicking speakeasy.

Liv Warfield, who along with James Harkness, provides powerhouse vocals throughout the evening at “Cabaret ZaZou presents Luminaire.”

Liv Warfield, who along with James Harkness, provides powerhouse vocals throughout the evening at “Cabaret ZaZou presents Luminaire.”

The music pivots on a dime when Warfield enters with an electrifying cover of Gnarls Barkley’s “Crazy.” Where Barkley’s original questions the sanity of two people, Warfield seems to be indicting the sanity of the whole world as she sashays across the stage, a star in her element.

From there, we’re treated to a perky/heart-pounding roller-skating act wherein England’s Isis Clegg-Vinell and Nathan Price, (two thirds of England’s trapeze group Trio Vertex, which also includes Cornelius Atkinson) fling each other around like Olympic ice dancers on a platform about the size of a backyard trampoline, less than five feet from packed café tables laden with hummus and cocktails.

Also outstanding is Mongolian contortionist Ulzii Mergen’s frolicking, arachnoid display of dexterity, wherein she plays the piano for all four limbs from an angle that looks like it should not be possible.

Along with Warfield, Harkness increases the emotional stakes while accompanying the circus acts and solos on his own arena-worthy charisma and a voice that can go from silk to growl to belt to falsetto without losing a note.

Scenic designer/design director Shauna Frazier has the stage ringed from above in (what looks like) stained-glass windows. With candelabras and chandeliers giving the place the warmth of a bordello, there’s not a bad seat in the house.

Costume designer Debra M. Bauer designs eye-popping looks, whether referencing the swank and swagger the Roaring ’20s or the purely fantastical. For their trapeze act, Bauer puts Trio Vertex in in unitards and leotards patterned with red and black flames, their arms and legs bound in leather-like accents and straps evocative of some Mad Max-style dystopian universe. Nobody’s smiling as they whirl from straps high above the diners, their spins and dips and falls becoming faster, farther and more frantic until it feels like we’re watching fire falling from the sky.

Weber doesn’t have the timing down perfectly yet. Meal service steps on some of the vocal acts, forcing the cast to compete with newly plated salmon, chicken and steak for the audience’s attention. Don’t get distracted. “Luminaire” is fabulous.

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