I first saw adverts of this show on the Granville Street bridge. Red flags spelling out “Bacio Rosso” flapping in the wind. Without any additional information, I pulled out my phone and went on goggle. My search yielded “Cirque, Comedy, Cuisine” and I was intrigued.
This would be the first time this cabaret is making its appearance in Canada. And from Late October to Mid December you can see it for yourself. Tickets are available online and do cost a pretty penny depending on where you want to sit. The tables closest to either the musical stage at the back, or the centre stage in the middle cost the most. The further back you go the less expensive the tickets go. A difference of $120 from most priciest seats to the least.
$199 gave you premium booth seats, lined up around the centre stage, at the very edge of the tent. Each booth is named after a major city, and you get it and the space for your group alone. All other tables had you sharing, depending how many were in your party.
$159 gives you a premium seat around the centre stage. This is where you want to be sitting in my opinion. Continually, any audience participation was selected from this area. The same faces played parts in skits, and the same faces also got to be volunteers for the magic show.
And here I was paying top dollar at $239 with a $10 fee for my seat. (All the other seatings were charged the same $10 fee as well.) Having paid the most, I expected more. But I wasn’t even able to choose which table I would be seated at. It was one of four tables in an general area between the centre ring and the back stage. And sadly we were at the ones closest to the back stage, whereas majority of the action was at the centre stage, with their back towards us. At least we were in prime position to catch the action and food coming out from said back.
There is also regular booth seats for $149, these were a little closer to the back stage, with less visibility. And the “stage booth” at $119. This was the least expensive, and in my opinion, the worse seats in the house. Here, you could hardly see the musicians playing, and centre stage felt like a world away. Heck, one of the performers even called the patrons seated here “the three blind mice”.
At the end of the day you are here for the show, as the food isn’t all that memorable, not to mention you get the same three courses no matter where you are seated. Therefore, I say spend more for the best view, because anything else would be a waste.
And speaking of that view, the following is a brief recap of my experience and some photos I have taken to showcase the mood. Take them in to get yourself excited, but truly, nothing compares to trying it for yourself first hand.
Not to spoil anything, as each show is pretty much the same in terms of plot, performances and transitions, but with the occasional ad lib. “Bacio Rosso” is a three-hour performance that features artists from around the world, including magicians, jugglers, trapeze artists, contortionists, clowns, singers, and comedians.
This rehearsed show has the feeling of improv; with all of the above engaging in the audience whenever they can. This brings you, the diner and viewer, deeper into the magical world that is self contained under this red tent. “Red” like the “kiss” in their name.
The show is set around the eccentric owner and operator of said tent, and her long lost brother. Together with their crew of servers and hosts they entertain with much humour and theatrics, set to perfectly cued live music.
Be warned, given that this tent is a pop up, the bathroom was like a Porto-potty of sorts. With no actual plumbing it smelled like an outhouse: a mix of strong cleaning chemicals and waste. But constructed with proper walls and running water for the sink.
Thankfully this was the case, as we found ourselves ordering and drinking wine by the bottle. Bottles that were recommend by our server, so that we could top ourselves up more frequently. The show is respected and to not block anyone’s view from the live action, the ordering of any drinks must be done in between sets. So having a bottle means more booze at the ready.
Dinner is four courses prepared by “La Quercia’s” Adam Pegg, an award-winning Vancouver chef who specializes in Italian cuisine. Once again, it doesn’t matter where you are seated, you get the same starter, appie, entree, and dessert no matter how much your paid for your entry. But sadly given that I paid the most, this didn’t feel like a $239 + $10 meal. Thankfully I was drinking plenty and the show had me engaged and distracted from the meal below. I found myself not finishing my food, more enthused by the show, which is a good thing. I didn’t stop laughing or smiling.
Please excuse the colour of my photos as the tent is strobed in colour and everything at our table was tinted red. And without a menu or a mention of what we were having from the servers, who dropped off plates with speed and ease, I am guessing on the below.
The first course was sliced pork with a salty tuna-fish-like spread, and a crispy pork rind.
My guest doesn’t eat pork, so got a lightly dressed bland salad instead. I was not impressed by this, given the price we paid.
Next, everyone got a bean lasagna. I found the whipped smooth paste over the tender noodles not an interesting mouth feel. It could have also used more salt and cheese to give the lasagna some punchiness. I would have preferred this prepared like a regular lasagne with tomato sauce, herbs and cheese (if they can’t use meat), at least I would have known what to expect with it and it is comforting and filling. This version left me wanting more.
The main course is also how you purchase your ticket: by choosing your entree between the vegetarian entree, the chicken or the beef. In hind sight, I should have gotten the “Polenta al Funghi”, Polenta and mushrooms dish as I feel that it would have been the comforting and filling plate that I wanted above.
The “Rosticciata di Manzo” is slow cooked tender beef with root vegetables in jus. It was a little salty, and the flavour a little bland.
I preferred the chicken a lot more. “Pollo in Umido” with roasted squash. The herbed seasoning was familiar and tasty.
I found the dessert too tart for my tastes, but at least the creamy panna cotta and raspberries was a refreshing way to end our meal.
In short, this was a great show that should not be missed. Come before the end of December for the entertainment value and the laughs. Come early and order a bottle of wine to pass the time, and to be immersed all the more. But maybe snack a little at home first?
Be warned there is no exact address, so to get here you are basically entering Queen Elizabeth Park from Cambie street. You follow the numerous small and dark erected signs and their red arrows to the beacon of lights that is the tent and the lively music that is coming from within it. Parking is any that you can find along the path, which requires a trek after. We hailed a cab and it wasn’t any easier, as both drivers that took us there and got us home, didn’t know where in Q-E to go.
Wednesday to Sunday from October 28 to December 31, 2018
7-10pm Wednesday to Saturday and 8-11pm on Sunday.
Queen Elizabeth Park in Vancouver.
4600 Cambie St, Vancouver BC, V5Z 2Z1
Tickets are available online from $119 to $239.