The San Francisco Experience

A Review of the Famous Beach Blanket Babylon Show


A ticket stub for the famous Beach Blanket Babylon

Aaron Raubvogel and Stefan Sujansky

Steve Silver’s “Beach Blanket Babylon”, the iconic show at the heart of the city’s theater scene, lives and breathes the spirit of the city San Francisco.

Undoubtedly the crown of Silicon Valley, both metaphorically and geographically, the city has always been on the forefront of social and technological change– a theme prevalent throughout the entire “Beach Blanket Babylon” experience.

In a constantly changing region, “Beach Blanket Babylon” always seems to keep pace with social and political changes.”

The wacky show captures the quirkiness and individuality breathed out by the City by the Bay. For instance, most shows since its opening in 1974, begins in San Francisco with Snow White (yes, the Disney character) consulting her Fairy Godmother about finding a modern lover, and just gets weirder from there.

As the Fairy Godmother (Renée Lubin) guides Snow White (Ruby Day) further down the show’s rabbit hole, the two travel across the world, encountering caricatures of the average citizen of France, Italy, Carribean nations, and other areas from around the world. The show is not above a bad pun either, and even welcomes them with open arms. The audience cannot help but laugh hysterically at Vladimir Putin singing “Puttin’ on the Ritz” with a oversized box of Ritz Crackers on his head or a French Poodle sings and ballad in a thick French accent.

But what keeps the audience on the edge of their seats waiting for more is the lightening-fast pace of the show. Viewers do not flock to “Beach Blanket Babylon” for a story with a cohesive, logical plot line. Instead, they watch with fascination as the show moves from a parody of one famous song to another, all while marveling at the cast’s lightning-fast costume changes.

Beyond the general framework of the Snow White story, “Beach Blanket Babylon” rotates countless acts about different, fairly-recent events. In this version of the show, one of the best modern acts was about the “Von Trump” Family and parodied a famous song from The Sound of Music (like von Trapp– get it?).

At a time when most people prefer not to think about the country’s politics, “Beach Blanket Babylon” satirizes people in power masterfully. It does what few other political comedy shows succeed in doing: complaining about government through humor without leaving a resentful, angry aftertaste in the viewers mouth when they leave the theater.

Instead, the show mixes in enough other pop-culture references between political characters to bait-and-switch the audience. Just when their humor is about to turn into actual hate, a Jewish mother (“Oy-vey” apron and all) marches out on stage to shift the viewer’s attention.

By continuously altering and updating their acts, “Beach Blanket Babylon” is consistently funny and fresh. A show seen today would be almost unrecognizable to a show 40 years ago. In a constantly changing region and social climate, “Beach Blanket Babylon” always seems to keep pace with social and political changes.

Besides being known as a constantly-updating musical revue, one, if not the most famous aspect of Beach Blanket Babylon is the hats. Throughout the show, the actors and actresses sport progressively larger and more extravagant hats, ranging from a physical lamppost to a large bottle of Viagra to the piece-de-resistance: a massive model of the famous sights in San Francisco.

The show owes its massive success to amazing writing and the versatile cast, led by Renée Lubin, Ruby Day, and Tammy Nelson, who make the show entertaining year-after-year.

During its 44 year long run, Beach Blanket Babylon has given loads back to the San Francisco community. Each year, the show donates to charities supporting performing arts, cancer research, and many more causes. The show also provides the gives the Steve Silver/Beach Blanket Babylon “Scholarship for the Arts” for high school seniors in the Bay Area. Since 2002, 3 students have won the $15,000 scholarship in one of three categories: voice, acting, and dance. If a student wishes to apply to this scholarship, simply click here and submit the form by April 27th.

“Beach Blanket Babylon” is a fabulous show with continuously rotating acts which reflect the changing nature of today’s society. But any resident of the Bay Area will also appreciate how the randomness and crazy nature of the show, including those famous hats, accurately capture the spirit of the City by the Bay.