Thursday, November 20, 2008

No beach. No Blanket. Maybe a little bit of Babylon.

A lot of people throw around the word camp. But few deliver real camp like Beach Blanket Babylon, that most San Franciscan of cheap theater. And by cheap, I mean theater that relies on smart performances, creative costuming, and clever sets more than big production budgets.

Since 1974, Beach Blanket Babylon has been a San Francisco tradition, with a constantly changing cast of characters, instantly updated songs, and ever bigger hats. It all takes place at Club Fugazi, a space that feels like something out of the Rocky Horror Picture Show. Sure, the whole thing has become a little touristy. But it’s still funny—and wildly entertaining.

Beach Blanket Babylon
owes much of its success to the cast, a hard working group of performers. They’re either on stage singing and dancing or behind the scenes making some impossible costume changes—morphing into caricature after caricature of politicos, entertainers, even French poodles.

And then there’s the whip-smart, oh-so-current humor. Though the elections took place just days ago, the admittedly loose story line and the lyrics have already been updated to reflect the new reality. I’m guessing the show is different almost every time you see it. Maybe that’s why it’s lasted more than thirty years.

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