To celebrate the 35th anniversary season of Beach Blanket Babylon -- the nation’s longest-running musical revue created by madcap showman Steve Silver -- BBB producer Jo Schuman Silver lit the floodlights on Monday for high school seniors at the 7th Steve Silver Foundation Beach Blanket Babylon Scholarship Awards.
Schuman received hundreds of submissions for this year’s scholarship. Then worked tirelessly to whittle all that talent down to just nine finalists competing in the disciplines of dance, voice and theater. The winner in each category received a $10K check towards their college education. And their moment in the spotlight.
“Establishing this scholarship was a longtime dream of Steve’s,” said Schuman of her late husband. “He would be so excited for these students, so proud of them, to realize his legacy is allowing these young artists a chance at fulfilling their dreams.”
Hitting their marks: Jessica Lester (American High School, Fremont) dancing to “Hernando’s Hideaway”; Patrick Varner (Montgomery High School, Santa Rosa) reciting a powerful monologue from Edward Albee’s The Goat, or Who is Sylvia?; and Nikola Printz (Novato High School, Novato) who knocked it outta the park with her rendition of “My Man’s Gone Now” from Porgy & Bess.
This spirited show was filled with numerous POJ’s (Pals of Jo), including longtime BBB fans such as Donald Magnin; Ann Caen; Elaine McKeon; Eileen and Peter Michael; Lucy Jewett; Rhea and Skip Friend; Geoff Callan and his mom, Barbara Callan; and Wilkes Bashford.
Former Mayor Willie Brown kicked-off the evening, with a moving tribute to his longtime friends Steve Silver and Jo Schuman.
BBB Producer Jo Schuman Silver and Willie Brown
“As a city, we are indeed grateful for this wonderful show,” declared Mayor Brown. “For 35 years, Beach Blanket has been seen by heads of state, civic leaders, people with titles and everyday folk.
“For most people visiting San Francisco, they think of the Golden Gate Bridge, the Transamerica Pyramid and cable cars,” continued Da Mayor, who has also been immortalized as a BBB character. “But Steve Silver and Jo Schuman Silver have created a show that is better than American Idol, better than So You Think You’ve Got Talent. For everyone -- there is Beach Blanket Babylon!”
Brown is a tough act to follow. Always. But Star 101.3’s Don Bleu suavely and smoothly served as Master of Ceremonies. And the panel of judges was jammed with the creme de la creme of Bay Area culture: choreographer Val Caniparoli; Mr. Nightlife Harry Denton; KGO Radio’s Jerry Friedman, composer Gordon Getty; SF Opera Artistic Director Gregory Henkel; composer Jake Heggie; actress Rita Moreno; Cal Shakes Artistic Director Jonathan Moscone; ACT Artistic Director Carey Perloff; and KRON4/KCBS/Live105 Radio’s Jan Wahl.
But this night belonged to the students and families -- whose high-spirited hoots and hollers in support of their pals onstage transformed the intimate, elegant Club Fugazi into raucous pep rally.
Also onstage? Previous scholarship winners were out in force participating in clever Chorus Line-style dance number during which they enumerated their triumphs and experience in signature BBB-crafted lyrics.
2002 scholarship winner Shoresh Alaudini tunefully wondered what happened to his fellow competitor Caitlin McGinty, “That hot babe with the red hair?”
Right on cue, McGinty entered, stage center, dressed her in sassy (and official) Banana Carmen costume that she now proudly wears since joining the BBB cast in 2008.
Singing to the tune of “I Dreamed a Dream” from Le Miz, McGinty belted back: “The judges found me second best/ I lost the prize/ But I won the dress!”
Other scholarship success stories include Peter Chursin, now appearing on Broadway in West Side Story. As well as, Katee Shean, a finalist in So You Think You Can Dance? who just landed her first movie role.
“Winning the scholarship helped us establish a foundation for ourselves to get our life started outside of family and school,” said 2002 scholarship champ Tracy Shibata, a UCLA grad who is pursuing her dance career. “Beach Blanket gave me a new beginning.”
Check out the photos below
Former BBB Scholarship winners Shaylin Hoye, Shoresh Alaudini and Tracy Shibata
Composers Gordon Getty and Jake Heggie
Val Diamond with the scholarship winners (from left) Nicola Prinitz, Patrick Varner and Jessica Lester
Ivy Getty, Ann Getty, Jeannette Etheredge and Cassidy Wald
Rita Moreno, BBB Director Kenny Mazlow and Jan Wahl
Larry Baer with his son, Jonathan and wife, Pam Baer
Choreographer Val Caniparoli and Harry "Mr. Nightlife" Denton
Jo Schuman Silver and DA Kamala Harris
A triumphant Patrick Varner with emcee Don Bleu
Singer-songwriter Eoin Harrington, ACT Artistic Director Carey Perloff and CalShakes Artistic Director Jonathan Moscone
Joshua Robison, Pam Glogau, Gordon Glogau and Dr. Richard Glogau
Matthew Goudeau, Becca Prowda and Daniel Lurie
Marta Salas-Porras, Harlan Kelly, Jr., Francesca Vietor and Dale Djerassi