Dear San Francisco: A High-Flying Love Story, the new show from Pickle Family Circus heir Gypsy Snider and co-artistic director Shana Carroll, is readying for its first previews at Club Fugazi in North Beach later this month, and they gave a sneak preview to some members of the press last week.
SFist told you earlier this year about the show coming to fill the longtime home of Beach Blanket Babylon, and it comes to the storied space via some artists with serious local cred, albeit via Montreal. Snider is the daughter of Pickle Family Circus co-founders Peggy Snider and Larry Pisoni, and she's gone on to found her own company in Canada called The 7 Fingers, and to win accolades on Broadway as lead circus coordinator/choreographer for the Tony Award-winning 2013 Broadway revival of Pippin. Carrol happens to be the daughter of longtime Chronicle columnist Jon Carroll, and the show's producer is David Dower, the founding artistic director of Z Space who returns to the Bay Area after a stint working in Boston.
Dear San Francisco is, as it sounds, framed as a love letter to the city, and will take inspirations for its ever-changing show from submitted memories and stories that outside people write about the city. As the Examiner reports via the sneak preview, the 90-minute show includes acrobatics, dance, shadow play, and spoken word from these submitted stories and impressions of San Francisco, which they encourage audience members to continue submitting over time.
Food and drink will be served, in the form of a menu of local snacks, but these will only be available before each performance — in order to keep plates and utensils out of the way when the show begins. The show, meanwhile, will take place all over the room, with 340 swiveling seats installed throughout — to start, out of COVID concerns, the place will operate at half capacity, with only 175 tickets sold each night.
Snacks available will include Liguria Bakery's famed focaccia, Cow Ear Snackers from Chinatown's Mee Mee Bakery, Rustic Bakery crackers, Bohemian Creamery cheeses, and Stella Pastry & Café’s Sacripantina cake.
The biggest change to the space, in addition to the new three-quarter round stage, is the absence of Beach Blanket Babylon's balcony — though the mezzanine-level "Tiara" section, constructed for a visit from Queen Elizabeth in 1983 that didn't actually happen as hoped, is still available, with 35 seats in one row along the sides of the room. (The Examiner notes that some extra-VIP tickets will be going for $2,500, but there's no indication of this on the show's website, with these seats priced $39 to $69 like all the others in the house.)
Dower tells the Examiner that the team wanted "to keep the price [low] so that people can see the show," and thus there are $35 tickets available at every performance. And they want people to come back multiple times, as they did for Beach Blanket Babylon, to see how the show changes and evolves.
Steve Leveroni, who serves as vice president of the board of Italian Community Services, which owns the building that houses the Club Fugazi space, tells the Examiner that the board looked at a handful of proposals from potential tenants after the late 2019 departure of Beach Blanket. But between the Pickle Family Circus connection and the desire to create a new community-focused show, Dear San Francisco and Snider's team were the obvious choice.
"The theater became iconic because of what Beach Blanket Babylon did for the community," Leveroni says. "This [show] seem[ed] to be what will fit best for the venue. We all have the same end goal."
Previews for the new show begin in two weeks, on September 22, and those tickets start at $29. The official opening of Dear San Francisco: A High-Flying Love Story is October 12. Find tickets here.