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“But it’s so much fun,” she says. “When you get older, it takes a little longer to learn routines. It’s a little more work. But I tell you, keeping my mind and body active like this, as well as my social life with all the friends I’ve made here — it makes me feel younger by being in the show, too. “Plus,” she says, “when you get all the makeup on and costumes and stockings and everything that holds you in, you look in the mirror and say, ‘Hey, I don’t look too bad!’ “.
Steve Silver’s unstoppable headdress homage marks its 40th anniversary this month, The longest running musical revue in the nation, if not the world, it has played to an estimated 6 million people, logging more than 15,000 performances, A beloved San Francisco institution that’s as much a trademark of the city as the Golden Gate Bridge, Coit Tower and cable cars, this slap-happy revue will be honored at a public ceremony at noon Friday at San Francisco’s City Hall, There is also a gallery of humongous hats — a trademark of the show — on display at venues throughout the Bay Area, from Berkeley Repertory Theatre and American Conservatory Theater to Davies Symphony Hall (details at www.beachblanketbabylon.com), Oh, and how to sew elastic on demi pointe shoes did we mention that venerable San Francisco ice cream maker Humphry Slocombe has even debuted a new ice cream flavor in honor of the occasion? If you can’t make it to one of the formal festivities, take a lick of Beach Blanket Babylon Goes Bananas..
“It’s one of the earliest theatrical experiences I can remember, and its wit and theatricality were not lost on me even at that age, ” says Cal Shakes artistic director Jonathan Moscone, who has been a fan of the show since his parents threw his 11th birthday party there. “Some people may mistake Beach Blanket Babylon as a tourist show, but it’s a local favorite — I’ve seen it over 20 times and have loved every time, finding new moments and constant vitality in the work.”.
When Steve Silver first launched his chapeau extravaganza in 1974, in the back room of the Savoy Tivoli restaurant in North Beach, the impresario charged a handsome $2.50 for a 45-minute spoof of creaky old beach flicks, He figured the loony lampoon would be popular how to sew elastic on demi pointe shoes enough to run six whole weeks, Forty years later, the now 90-minute mashup of massive millinery is bigger than ever, His eccentric creation — crammed with pop culture guest characters, ripped-from-the-headlines jokes, silly song-and-dance routines and puns and double entendres galore — is still packing houses, playing eight shows a week at the Club Fugazi in North Beach, Silver, who died of AIDS at the age of 51 in 1995, created an ahead-of-its-time cabaret that lives on and on..
“Steve would be so proud to see that the show is still thriving, still going strong all these years later,” says his widow, Jo Schuman Silver, who has produced the show since his passing. “It’s his vision and his legacy, and we are just the keepers of the flame.”. Indeed, fans of the show credit the redoubtable Jo Schuman Silver with keeping the farce torch lit through the years. “A huge part of the lasting appeal of ‘Beach Blanket’ is the incredible heart, generosity and wit of Jo Schuman Silver,” says Carey Perloff, artistic director of San Francisco’s American Conservatory Theater. “I never had the pleasure of knowing Steve Silver, but Jo has clearly taken his torch and run with it, in all the best possible ways. She has made sure that the show is topical and hilarious without being too trendy or literal, that it has hope and joy while still managing to laugh at itself, and that it is always impeccably produced.”.
For the record, Silver honed his punchy performance style while a student at San Jose State, where he became famous for raucous event planning, particularly fraternity blowouts for the Theta Chi house, “His frat brothers are still huge fans of the show, and it’s wonderful to see them in the house,” says Silver, After graduation, Silver’s affinity for farce led him to take up busking on the streets of San Francisco, which is how he how to sew elastic on demi pointe shoes landed that fateful gig at the Savoy, The rest is kitsch history..
“His spirit is definitely still with the show,” says Silver. “He’s in the theater every night.”. The slapstick is constantly evolving in the show’s loopy pantheon of hats and gags. The pop culture pastiche combines “Saturday Night Live”-style skits with local in-jokes and groan-worthy puns. Over the decades, the show has thumbed its nose at everyone from Miley Cyrus and Martha Stewart to Katniss Everdeen and Queen Elizabeth (who has also visited the show).
“We try to stay clean, and we are never mean-spirited,” says Silver of the show’s humor, “We laugh with the people we parody and not at them.”, World leaders and one-hit wonders rub elbows in a symphony of silliness that includes everyone from the Obamas and Oprah Winfrey to Honey Boo Boo and Justin Bieber, In the old days, Silver tried hard to appeal to all age groups because the cutting edge wisecracks didn’t land how to sew elastic on demi pointe shoes with kids or senior citizens, “Now everyone is on the Internet,” she says, ” and everyone gets all of the pop culture jokes.”..