Get SF Weekly Newsletters
Pin It

Beach Blanket Babylon 

This 28-year-old musical isn't just for tourists

Wednesday, Dec 26 2001
Steve Silver's madcap cabaret musical is one of San Francisco's best-kept secrets -- not because no one knows about it, but because no one who lives in the city ever goes to it or knows how good it is. That's somewhat understandable given our lame selection of year-round plays, from the recently deceased haircutting whodunit at the Mason Street Theater to the trite Italian wedding that happens every blessed weekend at the Cable Car. But Beach Blanket Babylon is a spectacle to behold, even in its 28th year. It's the fairy-tale story of a naive Snow-White-from-San-Francisco (petite powerhouse Dani Marcus) who traipses across the world to find a man of her own, complaining that "available hot dudes are hard to find" in her home city. Along the way she meets a myriad of characters, including the bad boys of 'N Sync, Tina Turner in a 3-foot-high wig, a PG&E workman singing "Hello Darkness, my old friend," and the Clintons, with Hillary dressed as the Statue of Liberty singing "I Will Survive" and Bill donning a huge gray pompadour and red sequined disco jacket. The show is a compilation of old songs -- dozens of them, nearly back-to-back -- sung by a talented cast of Broadway-quality vocalists in outrageous costumes and larger-than-life headpieces (enormous trash cans, Christmas trees, and a model of the entire city). Babylon's seasonal extravaganza is essentially the regular show with a few dancing trees and Christmas songs at the conclusion. The only disappointing details of the affair are a few well-meaning but overdone ethnic stereotypes, like the garishly dressed, money-hungry Jewish mother and the loud, pizza-eating Italian waitress. Pop culture satire is at the heart of this hit show, and when the writers stick to that endeavor, it's tremendously funny.

About The Author

Karen Macklin


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Popular Stories

  1. Most Popular Stories
  2. Stories You Missed


  • clipping at Brava Theater Sept. 11
    Sub Pop recording artists 'clipping.' brought their brand of noise-driven experimental hip hop to the closing night of 2016's San Francisco Electronic Music Fest this past Sunday. The packed Brava Theater hosted an initially seated crowd that ended the night jumping and dancing against the front of the stage. The trio performed a set focused on their recently released Sci-Fi Horror concept album, 'Splendor & Misery', then delved into their dancier and more aggressive back catalogue, and recent single 'Wriggle'. Opening performances included local experimental electronic duo 'Tujurikkuja' and computer music artist 'Madalyn Merkey.'"