Beach Blanket Babylon | Talks at Google

Beach Blanket Babylon | Talks at Google


ANNOUNCER: Steve Silver’s
“Beach Blanket Babylon” is proud to present a special
performance for Google. And now, Steve Silver’s
“Beach Blanket Babylon.” MISA MALONE: Are
you ready to party? [SINGING] Now we have
gathered here at Google to tell the story of
a very famous show. It’s the longest running
musical revue on the planet. And it started up the
road in San Francisco. The story line is
simple, I’m going to help you all understand. It’s about Snow White
trying to find her prince. My job is to help
her with her plan. It’s got big hair,
big hats and costumes. That’s kind of how
the show began. And it was created by the
genius, Steve Silver, one incredibly talented man. STEVE SILVER: One night, a
bunch of us were out at dinner. And we came outside
the restaurant, and there was a guitar player. People were throwing coins
at him, and I said, hey. Wait a minute. Let’s go back to my
house, put some costumes on that I had from Rent-a-Freak,
and come back and do an act. See if we can make some money. So we went to my house, got
the costumes on, and came back. Wrote the show from my
house to the restaurant. We started singing
“Close To You,” by the Carpenters and
some really crazy stuff. And people started
throwing us money. We made $25. That was when I really
started understanding what people wanted, what kind
of entertainment people wanted. And later that year, I decided,
I’m going to do a show. Maybe a crazy show. Yeah, for sure, a crazy show. And opened “Beach Blanket”
right up here on Grant Avenue, at the Savoy Tivoli in ’74. And then, let me see. When was it? June of ’75– June
of ’75, opened up “Beach Blanket Babylon Goes
Bananas” at Fugazi Hall right here on Green Street. [CHEERING] Oh, in the beginning
days, I did all the hats. I would design them. And then I would make them. And I don’t know how to sew. I just kind of glued
it all together and stuck things in Styrofoam
and prayed, crossed my fingers. [MUSIC – “SWANEE”] I love to create a show. I love to draw the costumes. And I create really
through my drawing pad. And I put something on stage
that I think is dynamite. There is no way this thing
is not going to work. I love editing. If I say an idea, or
somebody else says an idea, and we all laugh, we
know it’s pretty sick. I mean, you know,
if you knew sushi– if you knew sushi like I know
sushi– you know, not a stock idea, but kind of sick. [MUSIC PARODY OF “IF YOU KNEW
SUSIE”] One of my all-time
dreams years ago was to produce a show
with Annette Funicello. It was impossible to
get Annette Funicello. People said, you’ll
never get her. And, of course,
when people say, you can never get anything,
you can never do it, that’s when I try harder. And I knew I’d get
Annette in my show. In my mind, Annette
Funicello was a star. And she was so
great to work with. [MUSIC “THIS JOINT IS JUMPIN'”] [MUSIC – “SWANEE”] [MUSIC] [DRUM ROLL] [MUSIC] I think that’s what
people want to see today. I think they want escapism. I think they want to see
something fun where they can laugh, and have
a good time, and not worry about all the terrible
stuff they read about in the newspapers. So in our own little way,
we’re doing something to help the world. We’re doing something to make
it a little bit more joyful. [MUSIC – “SAN FRANCISCO’] ANNOUNCER: Once
upon a time, there was a young girl
looking for her prince, and her name was Snow White. [MUSIC “SOMEDAY MY PRINCE WILL
COME”] SHAWNA FERRIS
MCNULTY: As you know, I’ve been traveling all
around the world looking for my prince. I even tried to
Google the prince, but I haven’t had much luck. But while traveling
around the world in search of true love in
“Beach Blanket Babylon,” I meet so many special people
along the way– politicians, pop culture icons, too. [MUSIC – PARODY OF “POPULAR”] [MUSIC PARODY OF “ALL ABOUT THAT
BASS”] [MUSIC – PARODY OF “BANG BANG”] [MUSIC PARODY OF “ROLLING IN THE
DEEP”] IGGY AZALEA: Adele. STEPHANIE HARWOOD: What? I’m not finished yet. [RESUMES SINGING] Thank you. Thank you. No. No. Stop. SHAWNA FERRIS MCNULTY: Oh. Oh, Adele, I don’t think I’ll
ever find anyone to love. STEPHANIE HARWOOD:
Oh, give me a break. You need to calm down. You’ll find yourself a bloke. And when you do, you’re going
to look him straight in the eye and say– [MUSIC – “AT LAST”] [APPLAUSE] All right now. It’s time to get
this party started. Put your hands together. Oh, hey, girl. Whoo! [MUSIC PARODY OF “CELEBRATION”] SNOW WHITE: [RAPPING] [MUSIC PARODY OF “DANCING IN THE
STREET”] [APPLAUSE] KEVIN BALK: Thank you,
guys, for showing up. Welcome to “Talks at Google.” I’m Kevin Balk. Thank you, guys. One more round of applause
for Steve Silver’s “Beach Blanket Babylon.” That is just incredible. You know, I came from
Chicago three years ago into San Francisco. And one of the first things
that people tell you to do is see “Beach Blanket Babylon.” And as soon as you get here– I
kind of put it off for a while. And then I finally saw it. And at first, I
thought it was going to be like “Second City”
in Chicago or “SNL.” But this is crazy. Like, it’s way more fast-paced. And the costume
changes and the hair. And how do you guys make
it topical and current? Like, what are the
struggles with just making it, incorporating
it into a show that seems like it’s already
very streamlined. SHAWNA FERRIS MCNULTY: Well,
our producer and our director– our producer, Jo Schuman
Silver, and director, Kenny Mazlow– are really good
at staying up on the times. And they listen to us, too, when
we want to do something, too. And it really is Jo and Kenny
who, when something happens, they put it in the
show that very night. KEVIN BALK: And are there any
numbers, or ideas, or stuff that you have that are limited
by the size of the hats? Like, oh, this would be a
great idea to incorporate, but we just don’t have the time. SHAWNA FERRIS MCNULTY: Well, we
were putting in a tap number. And they were going to put
it in the “Brazil” number. And if you’ve seen it, “Brazil”
has a ton of huge hats. So sometimes when we
try to put something in, the hats are so large that
maybe a dance number is not the best thing to have. So I think in that way,
they have to really consider what’s going on, what’s on
your head, and can we do that. KEVIN BALK: Oh, and thank
you for the specially created Google hat. That was incredible. [APPLAUSE] Really, really cool. So creating that, creating
the hats just in general, is there kind of like a template
that the creators and designers use? Or is it just completely
free, start from scratch every single time? JACQUI ARSLAN: Well,
it starts from scratch, but we all wear things
that are called buckrams. They’re designed to
fit our head exactly. Like a lot of us wear our
hair in buns or pinned up. And then you wear a wig cap. And then they’ve made this kind
of paper mache buckram over it that fits your head directly. And then they start from scratch
and build the most amazing wigs. KEVIN BALK: It’s incredible. Is there a trick to
keeping them on your heads? MISA MALONE: Stand up straight. KIRK MILLS: Lots of fittings
to get the weight right. STEPHANIE HARWOOD: Yeah. Keep your neck really strong. KEVIN BALK: And what happens– STEPHANIE HARWOOD: I remember
the first I put on a wig, it was like– you’re
like trying to follow it. But after a while, your neck
muscles get really strong and there’s no problem. JACQUI ARSLAN: You
don’t even realize you have anything on
your head anymore. You’re like clearly turning
the way you’re supposed to or something. But when you first
get it, you’re like– KEVIN BALK: Now is
there ever a backup plan for when a hat goes
wrong or a bum? SHAWNA FERRIS MCNULTY:
Well, it’s live theater, so anything can happen. And some of our
best moments come from rolling with stuff
that happens onstage. You know? It’s live theater. And when a show goes
this long, you’re bound to have exciting moments. And we all just, we love that. JACQUI ARSLAN: We
totally live for it. MISA MALONE: Keeps it fresh. Keeps it new. KEVIN BALK: Now, are there
any– every once in a while, there’s always a pop
culture reference that happens in the
news and everything. So when do you determine kind of
how long that stays in the show and if it’s appropriate? And does anything ever
get pulled from the show? KIRK MILLS: As long as people
laugh, they keep it in. If the people are still laughing
four or five years later, it stays in. STEPHANIE HARWOOD:
It really– it’s the audience that
determines what we put in. Even we’ve tried things before,
and it kind of didn’t go over. So we put something
else in its place to keep it fresh
for the audience. That’s why they come–
to see all the new stuff. Oh, I saw this on
the news yesterday. I wonder if it’s going
to be in “Beach Blanket.” And it probably is. KIRK MILLS: Because there have
been whole numbers that we’ve worked up, and choreographed,
and costumed, and everything. We tried it for one show, it
didn’t go over, didn’t go in. KEVIN BALK: Oh, really? SHAWNA FERRIS MCNULTY:
I’ll never forget, too, the costume designers
when Kate Middleton and Prince William got married,
they literally made that wedding
dress in a day. Like overnight, as soon as
she walked down the aisle, they had to start working on it. And that night, she was in
a full-on gown in the show. KIRK MILLS: Replica
of the dress, yeah. KEVIN BALK: And do
each of you have kind of your favorite reference
that you’ve been a part of or seen in the show? STEPHANIE HARWOOD: There
are so many good ones. I think ones that are not in
the show now that I really miss is a “Yokohama” number. And it’s set to the
tune of “Oklahoma.” You know, [SINGING]
“Yokohama, where the wind come sweeping
down the plains.” So I really miss that one. I mean, there’s
so many good ones. But that’s my favorite, I think. KIRK MILLS: My
favorite– I’m lucky. I understudy four
different guys in the show. So I get to do everything. And my favorite bit that I
do now is Michele Bachmann. [LAUGHTER] There’s not a lot
of drag in the show. But it’s done for
comedic effect sometimes. Like, the Queen of England
is played by a guy, and Michele Bachmann’s
done by a guy. SHAWNA FERRIS MCNULTY:
I’ve been really enjoying our “Putin on the Ritz”
number with Vladimir Putin. I laugh. I’m in the corner, and I’m
kind of glad I’m in the dark, because I’m just
laughing the whole time. It’s just such a good time. KIRK MILLS: I haven’t
gotten to do Putin yet. I’m waiting. JACQUI ARSLAN: Well, I play
the Pineapple Princess. And it’s one of the
original characters that have been in the
show for many years. So I love that one. But I always laugh to
myself, because I literally get paid to shake my butt. And I’ve been playing Kim
Kardashian for about five years now. And she won’t go away. So this was the newest costume. And we’ve tried it. And of course, I’m just
baring it all out there. You know. It’s fun. It gets a good laugh. MISA MALONE: I think my
favorite is Tina Turner. I wear a wig. It’s about this tall, kind
of looks like Cousin Itt. And I get to shake, and twitch,
and kind of act a little zany. So I think that’s my favorite. CAITLIN MCGINTY: My favorite
is Barbra Streisand. She is there all the time. She’s not going away. Nor why would she? I mean, she’s amazing. So that’s kind of fun. I have really long fingernails. And I’m cross-eyed
the whole time. I didn’t know how
to be cross-eyed when I first started,
for some reason. So I remember my
roommate and I studying, trying to make myself
look cross-eyed. And then we were actually
just talking backstage. This silly, silly
number, but I don’t know if you guys remember. Years ago, Marie Osmond on
“Dancing with the Stars,” when she fainted. Like randomly, she’s
being interviewed, and she just falls down. And that was just– it’s
just those silly things that are just a moment in TV history. Yet it’s such a funny bit. And we’re dancing,
and I just faint. And then they sing,
[SINGING] “Poor Marie Osmond, lies on the floor.” You know? I mean it’s too good. KEVIN BALK: Now, do you guys
get to come up with ideas, too, when you see something
that interests you and kind of have some
influence over your characters? STEPHANIE HARWOOD: Oh, yeah. I think Shawna comes up with
a lot of really good ideas. SHAWNA FERRIS MCNULTY: We all
were like– Jo is awesome. She emailed us. Before New Year’s, we do a
big, new New Year’s thing. And I think all the girls
were like, we– booties, man. STEPHANIE HARWOOD:
Year of the booty. KIRK MILLS: One of
the guys in the show has been campaigning for
“Putin on the Ritz” for years. And so we’re glad
it’s finally in. KEVIN BALK: That’s great. And what are some
of your backgrounds in terms of theater,
or improv, or– CAITLIN MCGINTY: Well,
Shawna and I actually went to college together. We both went to UC Irvine,
Southern California. So she started working here. We were musical theater majors. And she started working
at “Beach Blanket–” you’re a couple
years older than me. So she worked a couple
years before I did. And then she’s the one
who kind of got me– I had grown up in the area. So I grew up– my 21st birthday
party was at “Beach Blanket,” actually. So that was kind of fun. But, yeah. So it was really fun to
kind of come full circle. And we had another UCI
guy working there, too. So it was really fun. STEPHANIE HARWOOD: I think it’s
a lot of theater background. But we all dabbled, I
think, in other things. I know I spent six
years in New York. I know Caitlin did as well. So you kind of go. And here, what’s nice about
it is that it’s– I mean, the show’s been
running for 40 years, seemingly will run
for another 40. So as far as I can see, as long
as I can stand up and sing, I have a job. And I get to go
home to my family and have my kiddo go
to a great school. So to me, it’s like
I can’t believe I’m the 0.0001%
of people who gets paid to do this for a living. And as wacky as it
is, it’s so fun. KEVIN BALK: It’s incredible
and fun to watch. I think that’s the thing, too. It’s why the audiences
keep coming back. Now in the 40
years, how have you seen the show just evolve in
general, other than the pop culture updating and stuff? Have you seen the show evolve? STEPHANIE HARWOOD: Whoo. Yeah. I mean, for sure,
it has taken sort of a natural– because the times
change and interests change, you know, I mean,
we still have a lot of old-fashioned references. But we’re really topical. I mean, I know that’s as cheesy
as it sounds in that song. But we keep everything
really fresh all the time. So the show has to
naturally change. SHAWNA FERRIS MCNULTY: And
with the internet– and I mean, nowadays it seems that the show
has gotten so fast because we have everything
at our fingertips, on YouTube and Google. I mean, it has to move. I think the difference, too–
like I started 10 years ago. There was a lot more time
to change your clothes. And nowadays, it’s
like people have ADD. Like you got to move
onto the next thing. So this show has
gotten really fast. MISA MALONE: But I
think one of the things that I really appreciate is that
Jo and Kenny have a tendency to keep the iconic Steve
Silver “Beach Blanket Babylon” icons in the show. So Planter Peanut,
Pineapple Princess– CAITLIN MCGINTY: King Louie. MISA MALONE:
Barbra, King Louie– they’re still in the show,
but they’re topical now. So King Louie is singing about
something that is appropriate– KIRK MILLS: Gay marriage. MISA MALONE: –and
applicable to today. Planter’s Peanut is
carrying an iPad. You know. So it’s fresh, but it’s
still paying homage to where we started
40 years ago, which was with Steve Silver and
this great idea that he had. KEVIN BALK: You know, it’s
really a Bay Area institution. And anyone who comes here
really has heard of it. So has that really
helped to kind of have your permanent home here and
helped kind of shape the show and just to be like, this
is a complete iconic thing. When you come to San Francisco,
this is the thing to do. [INTERPOSING VOICES] MISA MALONE: I’m sorry. You know, It’s
funny– I’m just going to interject– because we were
talking in the dressing room. This is the first
time that any of us can remember doing a PR where
we did not sing “San Francisco.” It is such an ingrained
part of what we do. And it really does,
as you say, shape the show and shape the themes
and the methodologies that are in play. It’s because of this
unique and fantastic city. I’m sorry. KIRK MILLS: And I
was just going to say that we’re in all
the travel books now, as far as when you
go to San Francisco. It’s right there. That’s one of the attractions. Come see our show. Yeah. CAITLIN MCGINTY: And I
can’t say how many times– and it’s really touching–
I’ve seen, when we are singing “San Francisco” at the end of
the show, for whatever reason, you don’t know their story. But there might be
someone in the audience. And you’ll see them sort
of like wiping tears away. But they’re smiling. They’re so happy. So maybe they’ve moved
away and they’ve come back. Or they’re visiting. Or it’s that there’s something
touching them about it. And it’s really lovely to
see because we touch people every night while
we’re performing. And that’s why we do what we do. [APPLAUSE] KEVIN BALK: And we’re
going to do some audience questions, too. So if you guys want to come
up to the mics, feel free. I realize there’s
a matinee show that allows, actually,
people who are under 21. So does the show
change there, too? SHAWNA FERRIS MCNULTY: Yeah. STEPHANIE HARWOOD: A little bit. SHAWNA FERRIS MCNULTY:
For instance, on a Sunday, I will not unveil
my butt, I’m sure. And there’s just a
few little things that we change so we’re not,
like, saying curse words. Or there’s a very iconic
banana hat that comes out. And he lets his banana
up in the regular show. But on the matinees, the
banana does not go up. KEVIN BALK: Fair enough. All right. We have a couple
audience questions. How about you? AUDIENCE: That was a great show. Thanks for coming
here to delight us. What’s– [APPLAUSE] What’s your creative process for
coming up with the new songs? And how long does it take
you to learn the new lyrics and present them? MISA MALONE: That
would be Kenny and Jo. JACQUI ARSLAN: And let us not
forget Bill Keck, our composer. MISA MALONE: And Bill Keck,
our amazing musical director. JACQUI ARSLAN: I
mean, he puts together all these segues of tons of
songs that everyone knows, all in one number, and
it’s just incredible. And so he and Kenny
collaborate on that. SHAWNA FERRIS MCNULTY:
Sometimes it’s really fast, if they’re really trying to
get it in the show right away. You know, Kenny will
come up with a number. Kenny and Jo will write
a number overnight. So it just kind of depends. If it’s a number with a
lot of people and costumes, it takes a little bit longer. A lot of times, they’ll have us
try, like, a line in the show. See how it goes. If it gets a really good
reaction– like as Snow, I used to have a Justin
Bieber crotch grab. And it was really funny. And then we put–
OK, it’s time to put Justin Bieber in the show. You know? So we kind of–
they’ll gauge it. And sometimes, we’ll just
put a whole number in and see how it goes. AUDIENCE: Thank you. KEVIN BALK: And how about you? AUDIENCE: Again, thank
you so much for coming. This would be my fourth
and a half time seeing you. So it’s pretty great. I was just curious, we’ve
mentioned numerous times that the show is so topical. And so you’re obviously
adding costumes in and different ideas. What you do with the
costumes that are retired? MISA MALONE: There is
a big, beautiful land called the “Beach Blanket
Babylon” warehouse. AUDIENCE: And where
might one be able to go to see said costumes? SHAWNA FERRIS MCNULTY: It
is absolutely fascinating to go into the warehouse. When I went in, they
had to drag me out. It’s really crazy. It’s huge. I mean, some things, I
think that when they go out of the show, because of
copyright reasons and stuff, sometimes if they
build new costumes, they may have to
destroy the old ones. But the warehouse is
just absolutely filled with hats and props. MISA MALONE: 40 years. KIRK MILLS: I’ve been working
with the show for 15 years, and I’ve never been there. STEPHANIE HARWOOD: Oh. It’s so amazing. You’ve got to go there. MISA MALONE: Closely
guarded secret. STEPHANIE HARWOOD:
And you’ll say things like, I need a new pair of
shoes, because my shoes broke. And they’ll be like, oh. OK. We’ll be right back. And they’ll go over
there, and they’ll bring back a pair of shoes
that are in your size and were even better than
the ones that you had before. Because there’s just–
there’s like an entire wall that’s the size of that wall
that’s just covered in shoes. They don’t throw anything away. You know, it’s like
everything sort of stays. Or costumes will
be picked apart. And when somebody new
comes into the show, everybody’s sizes are
a little bit different. So they’ll find, like, oh,
well, that bodice will fit her. But she’s a little shorter. So maybe we should get a
little bit of a shorter skirt so that it’s not
below her knees. You know? And they’ll take it apart. And they’ll build it together. And our costume
department is unreal. MISA MALONE: Phenomenal. STEPHANIE HARWOOD: I mean, for
the New Year’s Eve, how long– two weeks to put, like– SHAWNA FERRIS MCNULTY:
And the hatmakers. STEPHANIE HARWOOD: And the hats. SHAWNA FERRIS MCNULTY:
Matt James and Tim Santry. STEPHANIE HARWOOD: Like 20
different costumes like that, And they just turn them out. And they’re the most beautiful
things you’ve ever seen. AUDIENCE: Thank you. Agreed. KEVIN BALK: Now was there a big
difference coming to Google? I mean, obviously there was. But what was kind of
the big difference in the process for bringing it
here as opposed to your stage that you have? CAITLIN MCGINTY: You always
just have to be aware. Like for all these wigs– I
mean, Misa’s is a little wide. But you want to make
sure that you can fit. KEVIN BALK: I was
worried about your– CAITLIN MCGINTY: We did
a rehearsal earlier. Because I’m 6 feet tall. Like, I’m already giant. And then you put me in heels
and a 4- or 5-foot hat. I looked at that, and
went, oh, no problem. And then when we tried
it go through it, I definitely had
to kind of do this. So you have to check
your surroundings a lot of the time when we get
to a new space, wherever it is, whether– OK. Am I going up stairs? Am I going up a ramp? Just the surroundings,
the light, the sound– it just changes
from space to space. And we have everything
taped out right here. And it’s basically the
choreography we do on our stage at Club Fugazi. We just make it work for
whatever space we’re in. STEPHANIE HARWOOD: I
think the show teaches you to be on your feet, too. Kenny will come to you right
before the show and say, you have a new line. And you’re like, oh. So you have to learn this
whole new line or a new verse in a song because something
happened that day. And so you have to be able
to let go of old information, and bring in new
information, and go. You know? And sometimes it’s
a wing and a prayer. But I mean, most of us– I
mean, I know I– sometimes I can’t even remember
things at home. Like did I do my
laundry last night? And it’s because I got too
much information coming in. And I’ve got to focus on
“Beach Blanket,” you know. Memorize those lines. When you get here,
we practice it. But then we get here,
and he says, OK. You go here, and you go here. And then you just do it. JACQUI ARSLAN: Well, and
I’m the queen of gibberish. I get new lines, and
the show must go on. And I have no idea
what I’m saying. And I’m just, [GIBBERISH]
And it’s kosher. Like I’ll finally find
the note or the line I’m supposed to say. And it’s actually on YouTube. Don’t YouTube it. KIRK MILLS: I was on stage
with her when she did that, and she was so committed
to her gibberish. There were people in
the audience who said, I had a really hard
time understanding her. Like, they thought
she was talking. JACQUI ARSLAN: But you
didn’t break face either. We didn’t break
choreography or anything. I was just like, [GIBBERISH]. Because I was playing Lady
Gaga in the meat dress. But I mean, sometimes
your mind just goes. And you have no idea why. And then all of a sudden,
it pops back into you. But you just got to keep going. KEVIN BALK: I mean, the show
transcends different cities, too. Because you guys have done
this, I think, in London, right? And New York. [INTERPOSING VOICES] KEVIN BALK: Vegas. Vegas, I’m sorry. How was the reception there? SHAWNA FERRIS MCNULTY: I don’t
think any of us were here, but I know that both shows
were super successful. I’m so jealous. I want to go to London. STEPHANIE HARWOOD: I know. People come all the
time, and they’re like, when are you coming back. We want to see you in New York. This would do so well. I mean, who knows? Anything is possible
for the future, I think. KEVIN BALK: Next question. AUDIENCE: Hearing you
talk about the process, I’m curious about a few
things, one of which is how often do
performers change? And what is the
audition process like? Hearing you see all these things
with the theater background, but it does sound
like you need to have maybe some sort of improv
background or ability to really just remember things
and do things on the fly. So I’m curious about that. MISA MALONE: I actually think
I’ll speak to that, because I’m the only one up here
that actually does not have a theater background. I actually used to work
here, believe it or not. [APPLAUSE] What’s really interesting is
that Kenny and Jo and just the team, they make it
so easy, if you just have a lot of personality,
to kind of step in. And they will help you. And then you have
your castmates. And you’ve got a
wealth of background in history and theater. And they’ll help you to kind
of guide you along the way. So the audition process– my
audition story is a little different from everyone else’s. But there actually
is an annual audition for “Beach Blanket Babylon.” Typically happens in September. I actually had a
private audition because I knew people
who knew people. But it’s a really great– it’s
a really great type of a thing, because it gives you an
opportunity to come in. And they’ll give you
what you need to know. And they’ll say, prepare
to sing like Barbra. Prepare to sing
“Ain’t Misbehavin’.” Prepare to have a country
twang and speak like a Brit, as Stephanie does
so wonderfully. JACQUI ARSLAN: Right in the eye. STEPHANIE HARWOOD:
Adele is my favorite. I love her. MISA MALONE: So you have an
opportunity to really showcase. So maybe if you don’t have
that theater background, but you have a lot of
personality and a little spark, they will recognize that in you,
and they’ll give you a chance. They gave me a chance. STEPHANIE HARWOOD: I actually
went to the open call. The first year I auditioned,
my grandmother was like, oh. There’s a thing
in the newspaper. You should go. And I wasn’t going to go. I had just moved home
from New York City. And so I didn’t
prepare anything. And I thought, well,
I guess I’ll just go. I’m here. I might as well. And I go in. And I had no idea
what I was in for. You go into this room. And I didn’t know anyone. I mean I didn’t know anyone. I’d never seen the show before. I’d heard about it
growing up here. My parents went. But I never saw it. So when I went, and
I went up to sing– and I think I was in,
like, the first group. And I went up there. And I sang my solo, which
was, like, “Maybe This Time,” from Cabaret. You know? And I’m singing my song. And then afterwards,
he goes, OK. That’s great. Now can you do it
like Ethel Merman? And I was like, uh. I think I can do that. And I did my Ethel Merman. And I walked out
of that audition. And I thought, that was bizarre. I’d been to, like, a million
auditions in New York. And they’re just awful. You walk into a
room with a table. And you sing to
them, and you leave. And you have no idea how you do. And here, Kenny’s
like, oh, my god. I just love it. It’s just so great. Can I get more of that? Do it like Barbra now. And now you guys sing together. And you do this thing. And you’re just like, it’s
a really fun environment, and you feel like
you can just slay it. And they want you to succeed. And they really
don’t care if you have a whole lot of experience. They just want you to
come up there, and let go of your inhibitions,
and go for it. SHAWNA FERRIS MCNULTY: It’s
so different from a theater. I mean, coming from
a theater background and going to this
audition was crazy. You know, sing your song
in a Brazilian accent. I mean, it’s true. But it’s so fun. It’s so warm. Like Steph said, in New
York, it can be real cold. And they just make it a really
lovely, lovely experience. CAITLIN MCGINTY: And
I think you asked how often the cast
changes and everything. It really depends. I mean, it’s such a
wonderful gig as a performer. I mean, we’re used to having
a show last a couple weekends, and then we’re out of a job, and
we go back to waiting tables. That’s what I did in New York. So to have a job
that you have really until you’re ready to move
on or something happens and you’re ready to leave,
you have a performing job five nights a week. And it’s really incredible. So we have people
who– sometimes they’ll have the annual additions. But people won’t get
hired for a couple years, because people haven’t left. Kirk, how many years
have you been here? KIRK MILLS: 15 years for me. CAITLIN MCGINTY: 15 years. And then Renee, who’s one
of the stars of the show, almost 30 years. And it’s wonderful. And you can tell. I mean, the people who’ve
been there for so– I mean, everyone is so talented. I work with such a
wonderful group of people. But like, you learn so much
from those women and men who have been there for so long. I mean, they just– you can
just see it on their faces. They just get it. You know what I mean? Like, they just
totally get this show. And it’s so wonderful to watch. KEVIN BALK: So that’s
really interesting, too. So do you guys go in with,
like, impressions that you have? KIRK MILLS: Not really. It’s like Stephanie was saying. My audition, I went
in and did my song. And he said, great. Can you do it like Elvis? OK. Great. Can you do like Richard Simmons? KEVIN BALK: You’ve just got
to be prepared for anything. STEPHANIE HARWOOD:
It’s really just fly by the seat of your pants. Just go for it. Don’t worry about it. You know? It’s like, [SINGING] maybe
this time, I’ll be lucky. You know? It’s like, you just
let it go and you try. Somehow it works. At the end of the day. And they love for
you to go crazier and crazier and crazier. And we’ll put something
in on the first day, and we’re all a little nervous. And then after week
of doing it, it’s like we’re finding
more things that you can pull little pieces
of these characters in to make it more
real for the audience and make them be
like, oh, my god. She’s so like her. JACQUI ARSLAN:
For my audition, I sang “At Last,” I think,
at my second audition, because I needed
to sing a ballad. And then, I’m singing it. And I have my eyes closed. And then Kenny goes, OK. Can you sing it
with your eyes open? But like you have toothpicks. But be sexy. [LAUGHTER] [SINGING] At last. SHAWNA FERRIS MCNULTY:
Open your eyes, be sexy is one of our favorite things. It’s the funniest thing. JACQUI ARSLAN: Like toothpicks. OK. SHAWNA FERRIS MCNULTY:
Open your eyes. Be sexy. It feels so funny. But it’s true. That’s “Beach Blanket.” You know? KEVIN BALK: Another
question over here. AUDIENCE: Yeah. So I think you guys
just kind of touched on this a little bit already. But I am curious. I love that you, the
guy in the red vest, you play Michele Bachmann. So how specifically
are characters chosen? Like if at night, do the
producers come and say, you’re Vladimir
Putin for the night? Like how is that decided? And are there
particular characters that everyone wants to play or
that they’re required to play? KIRK MILLS: Well
there’s 10 principals, five guys, five girls. And out of the principals,
they decide who does what. And then the understudies
just sort of adapt to what the principals do. Like I say, I cover
four people, so I do everything that’s not done
by a black man or a woman. CAITLIN MCGINTY:
But there’s tracks. That’s specific. Like mine’s– I do
Chiquita Banana, and Jacqui’s the
Pineapple Princess. So we kind of know which
roles come with that. And then it sort of
depends on, well, do you have a break right now? Or are you on stage? OK. You have a break? OK, so we want you
to be– you know? It sort of depends on timing
and everything as well. JACQUI ARSLAN: Who
can make the change. CAITLIN MCGINTY: Exactly. Who can make the change. MISA MALONE: Unless, of
course, you’re the black girl, in which case, you get to
play all of the black roles. So my principal and I,
there are three of us on cast, Team Black Girl. And we play everything
from Beyonce to Nicki Minaj to
Michelle Obama, Coco Chanel– wrap your head
around that one– Tina Turner, and Glinda the Good Witch. So there are certain
characters– I’ve always thought of it, just
as a newbie coming in, there are tracks
that lead to an icon. So there’s the Louie track. There’s the Pineapple
Princess track. There’s the pizza lady track. There’s– KIRK MILLS: Elvis track. MISA MALONE: The Elvis track. Because those are
the iconic roles that Steve Silver
originally created. And then that character, then,
will play some pop culture icons and some
political as well. But again, as I said, it’s
kind of predicated on, do you have a break right now? Do you think you
could make a change? You can? OK, good. This is you now. You get to play Katy Perry. You get to play– STEPHANIE HARWOOD: Well, and
like in Jacqui’s case, I mean, she looks like Kim Kardashian. So obviously they’re going
to do whatever they can. CAITLIN MCGINTY: I am not
going to play Kim Kardashian. STEPHANIE HARWOOD:
You know, it’s like she looks
fantastic in that role. So they’re going to
put her in that role. Tammy has just the biggest
personality and this big face that has the craziest facial
expressions you’ve ever seen. So if somebody is
bigger than life and has just this huge,
crazy personality, she’s going to do it. And they’ll figure
out how to fit it in. Sometimes it takes
a lot of finesse, and tweaking, and
cutting, and snipping. But Kenny, and Jo, and
Bill do a fantastic job of figuring out how
to fit it in there. And then we sort of
show up and go, OK. Sounds great. KEVIN BALK: That’s great. I do want to– any
more questions? One more. AUDIENCE: Yeah. I was reading in the brochure
about a scholarship program as well. Could you talk to
a little bit more about that, how you recruit
the next generation folks? CAITLIN MCGINTY:
I’ll take that one. So actually, it’s a
really wonderful thing. I took place in it
a long time ago. It started in 2002. And I was going to college. It was my senior
year of high school. And is it just
northern California? Is it the Bay Area, Jo? SHAWNA FERRIS MCNULTY:
It’s the Bay Area. CAITLIN MCGINTY: Bay Area. SHAWNA FERRIS MCNULTY: Within a
certain radius of the Bay Area. CAITLIN MCGINTY: There’s
a certain radius. And you can audition,
whether you’re a dancer, an actor, or a singer. And you send in a videotape. And it was kind of the
same thing, I think, what you were saying. My mom saw it in the paper. And it the, was like, the
day before it was due. OK. Let’s in the living room
record you singing a song. And we’ll send it in. And so I was one of the three
singing finalists chosen. And then it’s really,
really amazing, because I was 17 years old. And I got to go to Club Fugazi. And I met all the cast. And of course, I’m completely
overwhelmed and terrified because these
people are amazing. And it’s a live night. You get to invite friends. And there’s a panel of judges. And each finalist performs
whatever they’ve chosen to do, whether it’s a dance,
acting, or singing. And a winner is chosen. I did not win. But came in second. JACQUI ARSLAN: We love teasing
her about that, though. CAITLIN MCGINTY: The winner
receives a $10,000 scholarship in each category. So they give $30,000
away each year. And it’s a really
amazing program. I mean, it’s such–
and we watch. We perform at it every year. And we watch these kids. And the talent that comes
through is just incredible. I mean, there’s been–
if you guys watch “So You Think You Can Dance,” there
was an amazing dancer, Katie. I don’t remember her last name. What is it? Sheen. Yes. Yes. She was a finalist, and
she won the scholarship. KIRK MILLS: Third place. CAITLIN MCGINTY:
Oh, third place. KIRK MILLS: No, she
was third on “So You Think You Can
Dance” that season. CAITLIN MCGINTY:
Oh, there it is. But she won a scholarship. And it’s a really,
really amazing program that Jo and Steve left for
her to kind of take care of. And it’s just such an
amazing thing for these kids to be able to come in and have
such a huge chunk of change to put towards their college
education right away. KEVIN BALK: And that’s the
“Beach Blanket Babylon” Scholarship for the Arts, right? CAITLIN MCGINTY: Yes. KEVIN BALK: So if any of
you guys are interested, look it up. CAITLIN MCGINTY: Yeah. If you know any high
school seniors, juniors, it’s going to come
up this year in June. Let them know. It’s a really– June 1st. SHAWNA FERRIS MCNULTY:
Information’s on the website. CAITLIN MCGINTY: Yes. Definitely, definitely
tell them about it. KEVIN BALK: Well,
let’s thank the cast one more time for being here. [APPLAUSE] And I do want to make a very
special mention to the crew because this just
doesn’t happen. I mean, this is an
incredible amount of people involved from
“Beach Blanket Babylon.” So we really, really thank
you all for being here. The wonderful,
wonderful musicians that we have over here. [APPLAUSE] The people in the back
who you can’t even see, who are there helping
change the costumes and make sure
everything’s perfect. And the costume
designers and the wigs and the– especially making the
Google hat, or the Google wig. That’s just incredible. And of course, Jo, Kenny, all
of you guys, thank you so much. Kenny, wave. Jo, Jo Schuman Silver,
for really just keeping this show alive in San
Francisco and keeping it alive for 40 years. I mean, this is just
incredible and Steve’s legacy. So it’s really great
that it’s here. It’s here to stay. And it’s doing incredible. So we all really, really
thank you for that. So go see the show. It’s at Club Fugazi, you
know, in North Beach district of San Francisco. And we all thank you
for being here today. [APPLAUSE]

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