Behind the scenes at Beach Blanket Babylon

August 4, 2010 7:59:24 PM PDT
San Francisco's Beach Blanket Babylon is the longest running musical review in the world, complete with big hats and big laughs. The show has delighted audiences for decades.

It is still about Snow White looking for Prince Charming and along the way she meets wacky people in outrageous hats. They also tie in lots of current events, public figures, and political jokes.

The show was created by Steve Silver in 1974. He thought it might run 6 weeks, but here it is 36 years later and it is still going strong.

Producer Jo Schuman Silver and Director Kenny Mazlow find new characters in the headlines. Silver used to change lines while the show was on stage.

"He'd hand us a piece of paper, 'I want you to say this, say it,' and before you could even respond, the flats would open," says Mazlow.

"People always ask do you think Steve would continue the show like this. Yes, It would have evolved with the times, that's what he did. He always kept it topical and up to date," says Schuman Silver.

By now it is a well oiled machine and backstage there is a coordinated stage crew.

"It's with a nod or a wink or anything that gives the indication that I need a cue run," says stage manager John Camajani.

Jacqui Heck changes costumes in one number. She played Kate Gosselin and Taylor Swift in this same piece. She runs to the cramped backstage where the costumes hang to get dressed into the next character.

"Everything is totally choreographed backstage," says Heck.

Doug Freelon has done costumes for 10 years.

"Everyone has to be in the right place at the right time and if you don't, you or someone else or a hat could get hurt," says Freelon.

And Heck makes it as a theatre student by day and cast member by night. In a show that still creates magic.

"There's also a fine line we never cross. That Steve always said we have fun with, we don't make fun of," says Schuman Silver.

Beach Blanket Babylon is ready for another 36 years.


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