Regional Reviews: San Francisco
Steve Silver's Beach Blanket Babylon
Steve Silver's Beach Blanket Babylon, San Francisco's phenomenon, has been going strong since the date of its inception in June 1974. This homage to American kitsch has had over 11,800 performances and has been seen by more than 4.8 million people. This is a prime tourist attraction, along with the Golden Gate Bridge, Fisherman's Wharf and the Transamerica pyramid. The kitschy and timely revue is housed at the Club Fugazi, a North Beach Landmark. Tickets for the show should always be purchased in advance since practically every night it has a sold out house.
Steve Silver's Beach Blanket Babylon's story has remained the same. Snow White is waiting for her Prince Charming at the city by the bay and she hits the road to various countries to find the elusive man. It's not an easy trip and she runs into celebrities like Hilary Clinton, President Clinton, the Village People, Barbra Streisand, Martha Stewart, Angelina Jolie, Paris Hilton, John Travolta, Britney Spears, Michael Jackson and Dick Cheney - just to name a few.
Snow White (Shawna Ferris) has the wildest and craziest fairy godmother in any fairy tale; Emily Baloney, dressed in pink chiffon, belts out several songs during the production with her powerful vocal chops. Throughout her journeys Snow White finds the talented Tammy Nelson playing various characters like the Pizza Queen or a singer dressed as a sequined French Apache dancer with a lamppost poking out of her head singing a stunning arrangement of "Anyone Who Had a Heart." Tammy Nelson alternates this role with Val Diamond.
Throughout the brisk two hour homage to popular culture Snow White, sometimes called Snow Balls or Snow Blower, meets the gayest King Louis IX played by Curt Brannon, dressed with the biggest pink wig that stands three times the size of his face . He is attended by three French poodles who warble "Get me to the Church on Time" with lyrics like "Ding dong, I'm going to have it all! I'll be a twosome, thanks to Mayor Gavin Newson! It's happening at City Hall." This is a real show stopper.
Beach Blanket Babylon has many show-stopping numbers, including four dancing Hasidic Jews dressed as Mogan David wine bottles doing a hilarious rendition of "Hava Nagila" that comes out "Have a Tequila." There is Hilary Clinton dressed in a Statue of Liberty costume along with her husband on "Your Cheating Heart." The actors representing the Village People turn "Macho Man" into "Matzoh Man."
Beach Blanket Babylon would not be a paean to popular culture without the presence of Elvis, who comes out with a plastic headdress double the size of his face, rockin' to some of his songs, or the divine Barbra Streisand with 5-inch fingernails in a camp version of some of her songs. The revue stays on top of current events with a skit with Dick Cheney and his gun shooting, and Bjork in a swan outfit. There is a bit about Barry Bonds and his steroid shots. The company just added a salute to Brokeback Mountain, with two cowboys singing suggestive lyrics out of two back pockets of a giant set of Levi's.
Steve Silver's Beach Blanket Babylon is about Alan Greenspan's huge hats, including the huge fabulous top worn by Tammy Nelson that depicts the whole outline of San Francisco, including a motorized cable car running up and down a hill. The costumes by Jayne Serba are outlandish and all of the cast, which consists of Paulino Duran, Shawna Ferris, Kimberly Jensen, Rene Lubin, Doug Magpiong, Shoni Mero, Tim McManus, Jennifer Moore, are marvelous taking over various roles.
Tickets range from $25 to $75 and can be purchased online at www.beachblanketbablon.com or by calling the box office at 415-421-4222. Club Fugazi is located at 678 Beach Blanket Babylon Blvd (Green Street) in the heart of North Beach, San Francisco. Shows run Wednesdays through Sundays.