Dinner and a Show

The Spy Who Wore Stilettos

Comedian Kevin Kent returns to Teatro ZinZanni as Mr. C, master of disguise.

By Laura Dannen March 30, 2010

Kevin Kent as Mr. C, master of disguise.

Teatro ZinZanni’s latest act, License to Kiss, seems to have it all: a statuesque blonde star would could best any Bond girl; a petite aerialist who does a midair dance of seduction; a couple versed in the vertical tango; a vaudeville comedy duo; and a striking Swedish MC who doubles as a man in a bear suit…riding a unicycle…on a high wire. For anyone who hasn’t had the good fortune of experiencing ZinZanni’s dinner theater under the spiegeltent, I have one word: go.

For those who have, I have two words: Kevin Kent. Back in his element, the comedian/drag queen and original cast member returns as new character Mr. C, a secret agent sent to recover dessert’s missing ingredient. Whether he’s crawling around the floor, sneaking a peak under your tablecloth, or “investigating” audience members while disguised as a Glamazon, Kent is reason enough to return to ZinZanni. He’s as masterful at improv as he is at walking in four-inch heels. Before License to Kiss closes on April 25, Kent talked about the characters still in his head and how to avoid being one of his “victims.”

How did you come up with Mr. C?

This latest little character is kind of a mix of Sergeant Schultz from Hogan’s Heroes and that little fellow in Casablanca …what’s his face. With that voice. [Goes into high-pitched voice.] “Wait, wait, you know they’re coming!” Darn it, I can’t remember his name! Well, it’s the image of him and his voice coupled with all the classic 007 movies, the kind of bad guy-turned-good guy or good guy-turned-bad guy.

Are there any other characters you’d like to bring to the spiegeltent?

I’ve always wanted to do a whole safari thing—with the big white hunter and little Victorian maid. Then maybe even Queen Victoria herself. It has to do with the people who are around you as well. Will the juggler fit into the theme? It’s that kind of mix and match.

Audience participation seems to be a regular part of your shtick now. Do you have a philosophy for picking people?

First, you watch people to see if they’re responding to the show. You engage them, see if they joke with you. Watch me walk around the room during the breaks and I will touch people. I do a lot of patting on the shoulder, rubbing the back of the neck. I literally touch men right in the middle of their chest or on one of their pecs. And when another man touches a man there, that man looks you in the eye [laughs]. It’s a very intimate thing to do. And they’ll either puff up or look away. You start to read those reactions, and you wonder if this person will be able to handle it, will they enjoy it. We do ask them to do wacky things, but we want them to succeed.

What happens if they don’t succeed?

I can buoy the energy of somebody if it’s flagging. But it really is percentages. You have nights that are great, and then you have nights where it’s like, oh, I picked a guy I thought would be great and he had two more shots of tequila after I picked him, and it sort of made him mushy. You get used to that. It’s still fun, and the audience still saw the story.

License to Kiss runs at Teatro ZinZanni through April 25. For ticket info, click here.

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