In 1913, a group of thespians and their supporters started producing plays high atop Mount Tamalpais in Marin County with their first performance Abraham and Isaac. Little did they know that nearly 100 years later, groups of people would still be carting their wicker baskets filled with gourmet lunches and their favorite beverages to the 4,000-seat Sidney B. Cushing Memorial Ampitheatre to enjoy performance al fresco. Some of the seats even have views of the Bay and the Golden Gate Bridge off in the distance.
Moutain Play is one of the oldest non-profit theater companies in the Bay Area. In the early days, audience members had to hike the 8 miles from Mill Valley or else take the Tamalpais Railroad once deemed the “Crookedest Railroad in the World.’ Last Sunday was the opening of Mountain Play, and this year they’re running Hairspray. It was fun, it was fast-moving and the sets and clothing were oh so retro. After the play, the customary thing is to then hike the 7 plus mile trek back into Mill Valley, where the friendly shuttle bus drivers will take you back to your original destination.
Mountain Play is a non-profit organization and is showing this year’s production on the following days: May 22, 29, June 5, 11, 12, 19
The appeal of the Mountain Play Association (MPA) programs are its combination of a dynamic outdoor setting that provides the experience of live theatre in a gorgeous natural environment to a variety of under-served communities. For 21 years, MPA has provided services to people with physical challenges, including the hearing and visually impaired and patrons in wheelchairs. Mountain Play has also introduced sign language interpretation at its performances. In the early 1980s, special accommodations were developed for patrons with wheelchairs, including the grading of a path to the theatre and the construction of a shaded wheelchair platform. In 1993, the Mountain Play expanded its 10-year-old programs for the visually impaired to include professional describers who provide simultaneous audio description. Equipment was upgraded in 1997, which enables users to sit anywhere in the theater rather than in a specially designated area.
A “Day on the Mountain” outreach program was introduced in 1993 to introduce low-income/at-risk children both to musical theatre and to Mt. Tamalpais. Working with Bay Area social service agencies, the Mountain Play provides tickets and transportation to the show, pre-performance workshops and guided nature hikes on the mountain. Since 1995, the Mountain Play has also presented an annual performance at the Redwoods retirment center in Mill Valley for an audience of elderly patrons who can no longer make it up to the mountain.
Consider spending a beautiful day at Mountain Play.
Here is a link to their website: