On Wednesday night, iconic San Francisco revue Beach Blanket Babylon announced that this is its last year at the North Beach theater it has called home since 1974. The periodically updated show, which has epitomized a piece of the city's politically satirical attitudes, will play its last show at Club Fugazi on December 31, 2019.
Billing itself as "the longest-running musical revue in the world," Beach Blanket Babylon has been ongoing in North Beach — briefly at the Savoy Tivoli and then the larger Club Fugazi — since the Nixon administration. Alongside the Cockettes and the San Francisco Mime Troupe, the show was born out of the mostly LGBT, hippie-theatrical, drag-inspired, simultaneously humorous and activist zeitgeist of the early 1970s.
Producer Jo Schuman Silver, widow of founding creator and director Steve Silver, informed the cast Wednesday that she had decided to close the show at the end of the year, as the Chronicle reported. Upon his death in 1995, Silver told his wife that "she would know" when the right time would be to close the show, and that time has apparently come. "There was no reason — I just started thinking, ‘Wow, how much longer do we go?’" Schuman Silver reportedly said.
As the LA Times recalls, the show was built around Silver's street performances, and "The original show included 'a chorus line of hula-dancing middle-aged housewives doing card stunts' and a band dressed as poodles. It was supposed to run six weeks."
The plot of the show — the only piece that has remained unchanged — follows Snow White in her search for Prince Charming, and along the way she encounters an array of current-event figures (the current show includes Stormy Daniels and Oprah Winfrey). The drag influence came in with the show's legendary hats, often featuring the SF skyline — one of which has was on display for several years at SFO.
So that's it. You've got 8 months to see it if you haven't seen it. And after the cast recovers from the shock this week that their beloved gig is coming to an end, you can expect a last flourish of creativity for Beach Blanket's swan song.