Santa Cruz Good Times

Dec 01st
Text size
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

"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.

Comments (0)Add Comment

Write comment
smaller | bigger


Share this on your social networks

Bookmark and Share

Share this

Bookmark and Share


Santa Cruz Gives

A look at the organizations we’re asking you to support in our new holiday giving campaign


Gratitude—For Each New Morning With its Light

The full moon of Wednesday brings light to Thanksgiving (Thursday) under the Sagittarius Sun and Mercury. Mercury in Sag offers humanity the message (Mercury) of thankfulness and joy (Jupiter). No other sign represents food, music and joy better than Sagittarius (only Pisces, when not in despair). Beginning on Thanksgiving, we can list what we’re grateful for. Then we can continue the list, creating a daily Gratitude Journal. What we are grateful for always increases in our lives. On Thanksgiving Saturn/Neptune square (challenging) is in full effect. This can manifest as traditions not being honored, disappearing, falling away. It can also create a sense of sadness, confusion, of things not working out as planned. It’s best to be as simple as possible. And to focus on gratitude instead. Gratitude is a service to others. It is scientifically and occultly a releasing agent. Releasing us from the past, allowing our future—the new culture and civilization, the new Aquarian laws and principles, the rising light of Aquarius, the Age of Friendship and Equality—to come forth. Gratitude and goodwill create the “thought-form of solution for humanity and the world’s problems.” The hierarchy lays great emphasis upon expressing gratitude. Gratitude illuminates all that is in darkness. Let us be grateful during this season together. Being, for others, the light that illuminates the darkness. A Poem by R.W. Emerson: We are grateful … “For each new morning with its light/For rest and shelter of the night/For health and food/For love and friends/For everything thy goodness sends.” (poem by R.W. Emerson). I am grateful for my family of readers.


The New Tech Nexus

Community leaders in science and technology unite to form web-based networking program


Pluck of the Irish

Mid-century immigrant tale engagingly told in ‘Brooklyn’
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments


Second Street Café

Pies and tarts for all tastes—from traditional to adventurous


How are you preparing for El Niño?

Getting ready to buy some rain gear. Cory Pickering, Santa Cruz, Teaching Assistant


Fortino Winery

Cabernet and superb fruit wine from Fortino Winery


Tap Dance

West End Tap & Kitchen’s impressive menu to expand to Eastside location