Beach Blanket Babylon, San Francisco's hat-heavy musical revue, has the subtlety of a tidal wave. It also has tsunami energy ― so no matter how urbane you consider yourself, you can't not get swept up in its fun. That's why it will celebrate its 30th anniversary this month, outlasting everyone's expectations. The brainchild of local boy Steve Silver, who died in 1995, the show is quintessential San Francisco ― exuberant, self-parodying, wildly amusing, and enraptured by its goofy worldview.
It's also my mother's favorite entertainment for visitors. I remember, in the 1980s, being dragged to a show with her and her cousin from Illinois. Sullen at the outset, even my teenage self was cheering when the 12-foot San Francisco hat appeared.
Now produced and managed by Silver's widow, Jo Schuman Silver, Beach Blanket Babylon remains as silly as ever. French poodles sing, a top-hatted peanut tap-dances, and singers spoof pop-culture icons from Louis XIV to Britney Spears. And, of course, giant hats reign.
The loose plot always involves a search for love, but it's really just an excuse to wear fabulous outfits. Come to think of it, that's quintessentially San Franciscan too. Wed-Sun at Club Fugazi (tickets from $33; 678 Green St.; www.beachblanketbabylon.com or 415/421-4222).