Chicago’s former Teatro ZinZanni franchise, housed in an indoor tent at Loop’s Cambria Hotel, transformed this fall into Cabaret ZaZou, best described as a Chicago-style cabaret, still with a foot in circus disciplines but now with a more sensual atmosphere, more imbued with music, the gestalt of the supper club and the Chicago blues.

The goal on the part of the producers at Chicago Randolph Entertainment, I guess, is to make the show more economically viable (it’s now a bit smaller) and also appeal to a bit younger audience. Certainly it has an important role to play for a recovering loop of Chicago, providing a place to take the family, out-of-town visitors, or to enjoy what you might describe as a dressed-up and glamorous night in. city ​​without having to go elsewhere. For dinner.

The menu has also improved: the price of the ticket includes steak frites, pan-fried salmon, chicken breast from the plane or a vegetarian risotto, also accompanied by an appetizer, a salad and a small pot of chocolate cream. Drinks and service are extra, but there are few upsells, making it an affordable and very classy evening.

ZinZanni may now be ZaZou, but the producers were smart enough to hire one of this former company’s greatest talents, the fabulous Frank Ferrante, who is not just a one-man promotional machine for the show, but a master of the historic but declining comic art. known in the business as “mass work”. It is then that the spectators are brought on stage as a source of comedy; Ferrante does this better than anyone I’ve ever seen, because (like all great comics) he knows how to keep multiple narrative bullets in the air, one designed to put his co-stars at ease and the another, often in a low voice, a kind of counter-narrative for the public.

It’s just acerbic enough to be comically hilarious (“I picked the wrong drunk in the audience”; “You look like grown-up Charlie Brown”; “In the dictionary under Florida, that’s what you see”) but also kind enough to make everyone feel protected. Plus, her energy drives the show, wanting everyone to have a good time. Difficult to leave without a smile on your face.

Between Ferrante’s comedy, the diverse variety show includes song styles from jazz singer LiV Warfield, with James Harkness also adds soft sounds, highly skilled Ukrainian juggler Viktor Kee, dry-witted contortionist Ulzii Mergen and an intimate trapeze act from Britain featuring Cornelius Atkinson, Isis Clegg-Vinell and Nathan Price. There’s a five-piece live band, now much more prominent than in the past.

This particular production, helmed by Dreya Weber, is expected to be around for about six months, before getting a change, offering die-hard fans a reason to return.

I am in this number. The Loop and its historic theater district need this show; it sums up a long tradition of classic Chicago entertainment.

The show helpfully pauses on occasion, allowing you to not only eat, but have a little conversation with your hopefully friendly companions.

Chris Jones is a reviewer for the Tribune.

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Review: The “Luminaire” of Cabaret ZaZou (3.5 stars)

When: Race open

Where: Cambria Hotel, 32 W. Randolph St.

Duration: 2 hours, 15 minutes

Tickets: $75 to $210 (from $125 including dinner) at 312-488-0900 or