Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: San Francisco

Beach Blanket Babylon New Show

Also see Richard's reviews of Topdog/Underdog and Hamlet

Steve Silver's Beach Blanket Babylon is celebrating its 38th year as one of San Francisco's prime tourist attractions. No show anywhere delivers more on the idea of expecting the unexpected. Since its premiere, Babylon has been seen by over four millions people. Once of the great things about this 90-minute extravagance is that it is constantly changing, with new "celebrities" being added to keep up with the current times.

There are introductions of new characters from the world of US politics and show business, including President Obama and Michelle Obama (who sings "Too Good to Be True"), Justin Bieber and Kim Kardashian. There are great put-ons of Lady Gaga, Nicki Minaj, Beyonce, Tom Cruise and his ex-wife Katie (Tom runs around with a large book titled "Scientology for Dummies") and Adele. All of these are larger than life characters with flashy costumes and the most unforgettable hats reaching to the ceiling.

The minimal plot is simple and concerns the search of Snow White, played wonderfully by Rena Wilson, for her Prince Charming. She travels to Rome, Paris and London where she meets the celebrities, including Oprah with three feet of books on her head, prancing poodles, and a very fey Louis XIV dressed in pink with a long flowing pink wig. She meets Al Gore who sings "Heat Wave" and the divine Barbra Streisand, dressed all in black with 10-inch fingernails. Glinda the Good Witch, played marvelously by Misa Malone, accompanies "Snow Balls" or "Snow Shoes" (as she refers to Snow White) and introduces her to all of these celebrities. Many are new for this production, including the Queen of England who wants to parachute with James Bond, Prince William and Kate, who sings about baring her breasts, and Harry, who is hot for Kate. Also here are Sarah Palin, sporting a big silver gun, and Justin Bieber, who keeps his hands next to his crouch when he is around sexy ladies.

The finale is a great camp version of the first act finale of Les Miserables that includes Mitt Romney, Paul Ryan, Nancy Pelosi, President Obama, and the First Lady, singing about the election in November.

Rene Wilson is outstanding as Snow White; she has the perfect voice along with an infectious laugh for the naïve character. She shines singing "Defying Gravity" and flies above the audience like Peter Pan. Misa Malone is first rate as Glinda the Good Witch with striking vocal cords. She also beautifully impersonates a sterling array of African-American women, including Michelle Obama, Oprah Winfrey, Whoopi Goldberg and Beyonce Knowles. Jacqui Heck is hilarious as Barbra Streisand, and the rest of the cast are hilarious in their various put-ons of celebrities.

Beach Blanket Babylon plays Wednesdays through Sundays at 678 Green Street, San Francisco. Minors are welcome at the Sunday matinees. For more information go to and for tickets call 415-421-4222

Cheers - and be sure to Check the lineup of great shows this season in the San Francisco area

- Richard Connema

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