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"Beach Blanket Babylon' (Still) Sizzles

blog1leadIconic San Francisco revue continues to improve with age

There are very few theatrical productions that make it to middle-age. Thankfully, “Beach Blanket Babylon,” which turns 39 this summer, is one of them. In fact, the revered San Francisco spectacle is the country’s longest-running revues.

That’s a terrific testament to the legacy that the late- Steve Silver left behind. Silver launched “BBB” back in the ’70s and the show immediately turned heads with its show-stopping musical parodies and clever plot—a whiny Snow White desperately searching for a Prince Charming. That may have been enough to lure audiences in initially, but Silver and his creative team went a step beyond, always updating the show by infusing it with a delicious gluttony of current events.

This is evident in the revue's latest incarnation—a nonstop powerhouse of sheer brilliance that majestically surfs the peculiar waves of pop culture, scoops up as many headline-grabbers as it can and feasts on their absurdities.

Some of the A- and D-list celebs and politicos on display include Gen. Petraes, Gabby Douglas, Gov. Chris Christie, Honey Boo Boo, Clint Eastwood (and the Empty Chair), Mitt Romney (and “Book of Mormon”), Nicki Minaj, the Kardashians, and riffs on “Glee,” “Les Miserablés,” and a hilarious spoof of the hit song and video, “Gagnam Style.”

But there’s so many other performances, too, of course, and “BBB” still includes classic material that has been in the show for some time, such King Louis and The French Poodles, Banana Carmen, Barbra Streisand and a festive twist to the show’s Italian story arc, among others. It didn’t hurt that the SF Giants nabbed the World Series title last year either. If there’s one thing locals (even tourists) appreciate, it’s devotion to a sports team. And "BBB" boasts plenty of accolades to The City.

Beyond these robust production numbers—some of the most inventive you may ever see on stage—are the actual performers. Creative beasts, they all seem to be channeling a kind of rare cosmic juju that finds them demonstrating wicked exuberance and sublime artistry in equal measures. (Who are these people? And can they please rub off on me!)

Longtime theatergoers—near and far—already know that for 30 years Val Diamond was one of the revue’s standout performers, personifying the spunk and passion of the show that Silver’s widow, Jo Schuman Silver, has so brilliantly kept alive over the years. Diamond left the show in 2009 and her longtime understudy and show performer Tammy Nelson has filled in with aplomb. Other notables include Reneé Lubin, who’s been with “BBB” for many years and still packs a creative punch, Paulino Durán, Curt Branom and Doug Magpiong. Collectively, this merry clan comprise some of the hottest talent in The City. blog4

The show's revered headresses never looked better, either and to get a deeper look at what it takes to perform in those, take note of our trek behind the scenes here.

In the meantime, for a show that was intended to run for about six weeks 39 years ago, it has morphed into a passion pit of nonstop entertainment, seen by more than 5.5. million people, including The Royal Family.

During an interview for the show’s 35th anniversary, Schuman Silver told me that when Silver launched the show in 1974, “the whole city embraced it …I think it’s still running because you know you are going to walk in there and have a good time, see the most talented cast on stage and listen to songs that everybody knows. There’s just something magical about it.”

Fortunately, the spell doesn’t wear off.

To learn more about "BBB" or to purchase tickets, click here.

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Heart Me Up

In defense of Valentine’s Day

 

“be(ing) of love (a little) more careful”—e.e. cummings

Wednesday (Feb. 10) is Ash Wednesday, when Lent begins. Friday (Feb. 12) is Lincoln’s 207th birthday. Sunday is Valentine’s Day. On Ash Wednesday, with foreheads marked with a cross of ashes, we hear the words, “From dust thou art and unto dust thou shalt return.” Reminding us that our bodies, made of matter, will remain here on Earth when we are called back. It is our Soul that will take us home again. Lent offers us 40 days and nights of purification in preparation for the Resurrection (Easter) festival (an initiation) and for the Three Spring Festivals (at the time of the full moon)—Aries, Taurus, Gemini. The New Group of World Servers have been preparing since Winter Solstice. The number 40 is significant. The Christ (Pisces World Teacher) was in the desert for 40 days and 40 nights prior to His three-year ministry. The purpose of this desert exile was to prepare his Archangel (light) body to withstand the pressures of the Earth plane (form and matter). We, too, in our intentional purifications and prayers during the 40 days of Lent, prepare ourselves (physical body, emotions, lower mind) to receive and be able to withstand the irradiation of will, love/wisdom and light streaming into the Earth at spring equinox, Easter, and the Three Spiritual Festivals. What is Lent? The Anglo-Saxon word, lencten, comes from an ancient spring festival, agricultural rites marking the transition between winter and summer. The seasons reflect changes in nature (physical world) and humanity responds with social festivals of gratitude and of renewal. There is a purification process, prayerfulness in nature and in humanity in preparation for a great flow of spiritual energies during springtime. Valentine’s Day: Aquarius Sun, Taurus moon. Let us offer gifts of comfort, ease, harmony, beauty and satisfaction. Things chocolate and golden. Venus and Taurus things.

 

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