In North Beach, there is currently a lot of activity at Club Fugazi, the long-standing former home of “Beach Blanket Babylon” – and there are no huge hats in sight.
“It’s a work in progress at every level,” said David Dower in the still-renovated theater that will premiere “Dear San Francisco: A High-Flying Adventure” with contemporary circus troupe The 7 Fingers next month.
Dower, a veteran local theater producer, founding director of Z Space and executive director of Dear San Francisco presenters Club Fugazi Experiences, recently gave a taste of the show and the venue as the cast rehearsed under Artistic Director Gypsy Snider slid down bars and balanced on his hands.
Club Fugazi Experiences Executive Director David Dower and Artistic Director Gypsy Snider gave a foretaste of their new show at Club Fugazi. (Leslie Katz / The Examiner)
Visitors who are familiar with “Beach Blanket Babylon”, the wacky musical revue that occupied the room for decades, noticed a change in the house: the missing balcony, which was removed to improve visibility.
“You can’t do a circus if you can’t see the air, so we took out the balcony. We also left the floor flat, “Dower said as he unveiled new swivel chairs at varying heights that allow viewers to easily see the show as it” moves around the room. “
There will be nearly 340 removable seats and 40 standing room for Dear San Francisco, just a slight decrease in the capacity of Beach Blanket. However, due to COVID security concerns, the audience will initially be limited to 175.
Ticket prices start at $ 35 ($ 29 for previews) per seat and go up to $ 2,500 or $ 3,500 for the 35-person tiara area on the mezzanine that was created for Queen Elizabeth of England was to see “BBB”. (The Queen never sat there as the show was at Davies Symphony Hall during her 1983 visit to The City; but Prince Charles and Camilla did in 2005.)
Dower and the show’s producers say the cost of seating and standing on the lower level will always remain affordable.
“We want to hold the price so people can see the show,” he said.
This notion correlates with Club Fugazi Experience’s mission to be a neighborhood and Bay Area booster.
And that’s one of the main reasons the building’s owner, Italian Community Services, a nonprofit that has been helping Italians and Italian Americans since the 19th century, is renting the theater to the group.
“Their approach was all about community,” said Steve Leveroni, vice president of the ICS board of directors, who negotiated what all parties would recognize as good business and whose father signed a similar original lease with the father of BBB inventor Steve Silver arranged Lou Silber.
“The theater became iconic for what Beach Blanket Babylon did for the community,” said Leveroni, noting that Dower and Snider, whose family started the Pickle Family Circus, have strong ties to San Francisco; and, equally important, that their show would be dedicated to North Beach and the greater San Francisco Bay Area.
After Leveroni only considered a few potential tenants, the ICS board thought, “This one seems to be the best fit for the venue. We all have the same end goal. “
To this end, the creators of Dear San Francisco ask people to write them letters with comments, impressions, and memories of The City that will be woven into an evolving 90-minute production.
And with its constant cast and content changes, and various excellent vantage points from every seat in the house, the show’s producers hope that audiences will want to watch “Dear San Francisco” repeatedly and drink, eat, and hang out for a while they do.
Rehearsals for “Dear San Francisco: A High-Flying Adventure” will take place in Club Fugazi, which is being converted for production. (Leslie Katz / The Examiner)
This community spirit is also reflected in the menu that is offered before each performance (to protect the flying and jumping acrobats, there is no food and drink service during the show), with many items from local suppliers.
In the historic common room of the ICS above the theater, guests of the latest preview enjoyed tastings of the delicious snacks, including: Fried Fava Beans “Popcorn”, Liguria Bakery Focaccia, Mee Mee Bakery Cow Ear Snackers, Rustic Bakery Crackers, Bohemian Creamery Cheese, Smoked Sardines and Mackerel from Jose Gourmet and the signature Sacripantina cake from Stella Pastry & Café, a creamy, almond-like treat to die for.
Preview performances of Dear San Francisco: A High-Flying Adventure are September 22nd through October. 10 at Club Fugazi, 678 Green St., SF The premiere is on October 12th. For tickets, visit clubfugazisf.com.
Bay Area NewsSan FranciscoTheater