I’ve had the privilege of covering three Beach Blanket Babylon anniversaries for three different newspapers: the 20th for the Bay Area Reporter, the 30th for the Oakland Tribune and now the 40th for the San Francisco Chronicle. Steve Silver’s extraordinary show just keeps going and seems to get stronger and faster with time (hey, it’s the bionic musical revue!). For this anniversary, I talked to the boys in the band and some longtime and famous fans. The story links are below. But first, here’s Sunday Datebook editor Sue Adolphson’s introduction to the stories:
Chad Jones has a history with “Beach Blanket Babylon,” now celebrating its 40th anniversary. He was there for the 20th.
“Steve Silver, the show’s creator, was still around, and when I asked him what ‘Beach Blanket’ was to him, he said, ‘It’s my attention span,’ ” Jones recalls. “Silver’s short attention span, wildly creative vision and wicked sense of humor spawned what has become the longest-running musical revue in theater history.”
No mean accomplishment for a show born out of an outfit called Rent-a-Freak.
“Beach Blanket” is constantly shifting to reflect pop culture and politics, and Jones cites the current show as a prime example of the “BBB” alchemy at work.
“There’s a particularly potent political number involving Chris Christie, Mitt Romney, the Clintons, Sarah Palin, the Obamas and others singing songs from ‘Les Misèrables’ with tweaked lyrics involving the Tea Party, a tanked economy and party politics,” he says. “The effect is at once hilarious yet manages to be stirring. It’s clever and potent.”
Jo Schuman Silver, Steve’s widow and the show’s current producer, has a simple explanation for the show’s success: “It’s about having a great time.”