February 17, 2012


I finally caught Beach Blanket Babylon in San Francisco last night. It's billed as the world's longest-running revue and it was still packing them in. It's basically a costume vehicle with fun costumes and amazing, huge wigs and headdresses. Many of the wigs bear Chris March's signature style of gigantic, so of course I loved that part. But the plot is a tired excuse for Snow White to find her prince. She goes looking and along the way meets everyone from Michele Bachmann to TIna Turner to Louis XIV. And the many talented singer/performers can't save this from the unbelievably corny humor. Every time Snow White is mentioned, they screw up her name. For some reason, the tourist-y audience giggled every time another character called her Snow Blow or Snow Plow. Get it? I don't! And one character asks her is she's looking for Mr. Goodbar and then proceeds to show her the "best bar". The curtain opens to reveal 4 hasidic jewish bartenders with Manischevitz bottles on top of their hats sing not Hava Nagila, but Have A Tequila. Get it? Me either! But the crowd did.

I guess it's a perfect show for people who are visiting from some place dull and want to see something wacky in San Fran. It is wacky--so wacky that it makes little sense. Why does Elvis sing in falsetto? Why does Bill Clinton wear a huge Elvis pompadour which is nothing like his own hair and makes him, like several other characters, unrecognizable? At one point, Michael Jackson pops out and the cast joins him in a short version of Thriller. Though the dancing wasn't too good and there was no joke involved, the older crowd cheered loudly at the end of this bit. So it almost seemed as if the show is a way to work in tons of costumes and relive pop culture moments from Madonna to an unrecognizable Justin Bieber to Leann Rimes. Very weak, but probably a good choice for your parents if they aren't very sophisticated.