The longest-running musical revue in America, and by far one of the most “San Francisco” things to do, this beloved cabaret-style show—playing since 1974—is a riveting 90-or-so minutes of hilarious and outrageous costumes, bawdy humor, campy sexual flirtation, and political and cultural commentary.
The show’s name doesn’t describe what you’ll see, except possibly the “Babylon” part; it’s left over from its debut incarnation, when the theater was filled with sand and audience members had their hands slapped with Coppertone lotion. Some 12,000 performances and 4.8 million tickets later, the show’s toothless political commentary and mild sexual innuendo hit just the right spot for a hilarious evening out. Everything about it is pleasingly silly, from the silly plots to the songs (mostly radio standards in 1-minute bursts) and the impersonations (Kim and Kanye made a recent appearance).
The show’s main claim to fame, besides its longevity, are the huge wigs and hats, which are as tall as the proscenium will allow. The climactic bonnet, an illuminated and mechanized city skyline, requires a hidden scaffolding to support. There’s a family friendly option on Sunday afternoons, but the content is still mildly eyebrow-raising. Performances are Wednesday and Thursday at 8pm, Friday and Saturday at 6:30 and 9:30pm, and Sunday at 2 and 5pm; check the website for additional Tuesday shows in July.
- Erika Lennert