The Insider's Guide to the 2012 Mountain Play: The Music Man
May 15, 2012Posted by pamela |
One of Marin County's most beloved and unique events is the famous Mountain Play—an outdoor theater experience high on the slopes of Mt. Tamalpais that's been going strong for nearly a century—99 years to be exact. 2012's Mountain Play production is Meredith Wilson's The Music Man, the musical tale of fast-talking and charming con man Harold Hill and his scheme to sell the citizens of River City, Iowa on a boys' marching band.
The Mountain Play's production of The Music Man features a professional cast including local singer/songwriter and children's performer Susan Zelinsky, AKA Susan Z, as in the starring role of River City's librarian Marian Paroo and Robert Moorhead as Harold Hill. This year's play is the 30th and final production for Marin County theater legend and Mountain Play veteran James Dunn, too.
Performances take place at 2 pm at Mt. Tam's Cushing Memorial Amphitheater on May 20 and 27, and June 3, 10, 16, and 17. General seating ticket prices range from $30–$40. New this year is half-price general seating admission ($15) for children ages 4–13, and children 3 and under are free. Reserved seats are available for Mountain Play Fan Club members (starting at $56); higher membership levels include perks like reserved parking and special shuttle passes. Order tickets online here or by phone at (415) 383-1100.
Make a day of it
Of course the Mountain Play isn't just about the play—it's about the complete Mountain Play experience. This includes taking in the pre- and post-show entertainment, with puppet shows and face-painting for the kids and live music, a raffle with fantastic prizes, and more. You can even take advantage of the Mountain Play's unique location and take a hike before the show. Check the Mountain Play's website for details on these activities and events.
It's also a tradition to bring your picnic lunch to the Mountain Play. Playgoers can get pretty elaborate with their gourmet picnic meals, and just checking out the gourmet fare that people bring is half the fun. There will even be a picnic contest at the last performance on Sunday, June 17, judged by Chef Beth Setrakian of Beth's Community Kitchen in Mill Valley. If you think your picnic spread is a contender, make sure you check in when you arrive to enter the contest. Picnic judging takes place from 12:30 to 1:30 pm.
Don't want to pack your lunch? Don't worry, you can buy a wide range of food at the Mountain Play concession stands, including sandwiches, hot dogs, hamburgers, salads, ice cream, hot and cold drinks, and even beer and wine.
If you go
The Mountain Play box office opens at 9 am on performance days. Very limited parking is available on the mountain, and lots usually fill up by 11 am. Lots closest to the theater are reserved for members and patrons with disabilities who have reserved spots in advance. Parking is available at Rock Springs and at the old Air Force base. There is a charge for parking at the Air Force base; a shuttle bus will take you to and from the amphitheater from the Air Force base parking lots.
The traditional way to get to the mountain play, however, is to take one of the free shuttle bus—otherwise known as the Mountain Play Express—up onto the mountain. The Mountain Play's fleet of eco-friendly yellow bueses will whisk you up to the Cushing Memorial Amphitheater from two locations in Mill Valley—the Manzanita Park-and-Ride Lot at the Highway 101 and Shoreline Highway junction (near the Buckeye restaurant) and at Tamalpais High School on Miller Avenue. The Mountain Play Express runs approximately every 15 minutes from 10 am to 12:45 pm, and will be there to take you back down the mountain after the play. Cars may be parked at both locations all day free of charge.
When you go, make sure you're prepared for any kind of weather. Even if it's foggy in Mill Valley, the Rock Springs and amphitheater can be sunny and hot. There are some areas of shade in the amphitheater, but they're available on a first-come, first-served basis. Hats, sunscreen, and layered clothing are a must at the Mountain Play. Make sure you bring plenty of drinking water, too. Amphitheater seats are all stone blocks, so stadium cushions, pillows, blankets, and other forms of padding are a good idea, too. Reserved seats have pads in place already, and you can rent them when you get there.
For the true Mountain Play experience, take the Mountain Play Express shuttle bus up the mountain, and then hike down after the show. The route down the Mt. Tamalpais is seven miles and takes about two to three hours to complete, so if you plan on hiking bring plenty of water and wear appropriate clothing and footwear. You can get a route map and hiking directions on the Mountain Play's website.
If you choose to hike down from the theater, the Mountain Play will transport your ice chests, blankets, picnic baskets, and other bulky items down the mountain for you; pick them up at the Depot in downtown Mill Valley, and then hop a shuttle bus for the ride back to your car. The last shuttle bus leaves downtown Mill Valley at 9 pm.
Other transportation options include biking or hiking up to the amphitheater.
To order tickets or for more information on this year's production and the Mountain Play experience, visit www.mountainplay.org or call (415) 383-1100.