AISLE SAY San Francisco


Originally conceived, written, produced & directed by Steve Silver
Produced by Jo Schuman Silver
Directed by Kenny Mazlow
Club Fugazi
678 Beach Blanket Blvd. (aka Green St.), San Francisco / (415) 421-4222

Reviewed by Judy Richter

Although it has been running for 39 years and although its theater is 100 years old, "Beach Blanket Babylon" remains as fresh as today's headlines. It's also very funny as it parodies pop celebrities, politicians and royalty.

It does all this through an energetic, talented cast of 10 performers who don outrageous costumes, exaggerated wigs and -- the show's trademark -- hats that seem to grow bigger and more complex as the 90-minute show reaches its conclusion.

Originally created by the late Steve Silver and now produced by his widow, Jo Schuman Silver, "BBB" has followed a similar plot for the past several years: Snow White (Rena Wilson in the reviewed performance), who lives in San Francisco, is looking for love, but she's not having any luck. Guided by a good witch (Renée Lubin in this performance), she undertakes a wider search that takes her to Rome and Paris. Eventually she returns to San Francisco, having met the man of her dreams. During \her journey, she encounters a variety of characters, who sing and dance their way through songs whose lyrics have been adapted to their situation.

The show opens with one of its longest-running characters, Mr. Peanut, but he's become quite hip, sporting an iPhone 5. The Beatles show up next, followed by several "Hair" songs sung by hippies. Snow White meets Oprah Winfrey, the Clintons, and a leather-clad, motorcycle-riding Nancy Pelosi, among many others, including the Obamas.

When she arrives in Paris, she's met by a trio of singing, dancing poodles, Coco Chanel and King Louis XIV. Several scenes later, she's serenaded by a trio of San Francisco Giants showing off their 2012 World Series trophy.

Octomom shows up, as do several English royals, including a drag Queen Elizabeth. A pudgy New Jersy Gov. Chris Christie sings about his weight-loss surgery during songs from "Les Miserables." Snow White transforms into a flying Madonna singing "Defying Gravity" from "Wicked," then meets none other than Elvis Presley. These are just a few examples of the inventive ways that "BBB" keeps audiences smiling and laughing.

Because the show is so demanding of its performers, the cast can change from day to day. Two of the mainstays, though, Lubin and Tammy Nelson, were featured in the reviewed performance.

Director-choreographer Kenny Mazlow, another "BBB" stalwart, keeps the show moving at a fast clip. He and Schuman Silver also write the show. Bill Keck serves as musical director and conductor.

Because it's so hilarious and so well done, it's a must-see for out-of-town guests.Locals can enjoy it again and again because it keeps chaning as new targets for parody make news. And even though it lampoons people in the public eye and can be a touch naughty, it never descends into bad taste or crudeness. It's just lots of clever fun.

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