Insider's Guide to the 2017 Mountain Play: Disney's Beauty and the Beast

May 1, 2017

2017 Mountain Play Disney's Beauty and the BeastChelsea Holifield (Belle) and Zachary Isen (Lumière). Photo by Ed Smith

One of Marin County's most beloved and unique events is the famous Mountain Play—an outdoor theatre experience high on the slopes of Mt. Tamalpais that's been going strong for over a century! This year's 104th Mountain Play production is the Broadway musical Disney's Beauty and the Beast

Based on the Academy Award-winning Disney animated feature, the stage version of this beloved story includes all of the wonderful songs written by Alan Menken and the late Howard Ashman along with new songs by Menken and Tim Rice. The original Broadway production ran for over 13 years and was nominated for nine Tony Awards, including Best Musical. It all makes for fantastic family entertainment in the spectacular setting of Mt. Tam!

Beauty and the Beast is directed by Jay Manley and stars Chelsea Holifield as Belle and Daniel Rubio as Beast. Musical direction is by David Möschler and choreography by Nicole Helfer.

Performances take place at 2 pm at Mt. Tam's Cushing Memorial Amphitheater on Sunday May 21 and 28 and June 4, 11, and 18. General seating ticket prices range from $25–$40, and children 3 and under are free. Order tickets online here or by phone at (415) 383-1100. Reserved seating tickets are also available; call the Mountain Play office to order at (415) 383-1100.

One June 10, there will be a one-day-only performance of the musical HAIR in Concert as part of the Magic Mountain Play Music Festival celebrating the 50th anniversary of the original 1967 Magic Mountain Music Festival and the Summer of Love. HAIR contains adult themes, profanity, and sexual situations and is not recommended for children.

2017 Mountain Play Disney's Beauty and the BeastChelsea Holifield (Belle) and Daniel Rubio (Beast). Photo by Ed Smith

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 enjoying fantastic preshow entertainment, face painting, a raffle with amazing 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 related activities and events.

Each day has its own special theme with preshow entertainment starting at 12:30 pm:

  • May 21: Opening Day with preshow entertainment by 'Til Dawn
  • May 28: Preshow entertainment by Jerry Hannan and Kelly Peterson
  • June 4: LGBT Day with enterainment Shelley Doty:
  • June 11: Celebrate the '60s with preshow entertaiment by the Mayflower Chorus performing Epic Songs of the '60s
  • June 18: Father's Day Picnic and Contest with preshow entertainment by Marin Summer Theater

On all Beauty and the Beast performance days kids can enjoy puppet shows by the Fratello Marionettes at 11:30 am and 1 pm, and have fun at PLAYland, a fun-filled play area.

Another Mountain Play tradition is to bring your picnic lunch, and playgoers can get pretty elaborate with their gourmet picnic meals. 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 18. If you think your picnic spread is a contender, make sure you check in at the Raffle Booth between 11 am and noon when you arrive to enter the contest.

Don't want to pack your lunch? Don't worry, you can buy a wide range of food at the Mountain Play, including sandwiches, hot dogs, hamburgers, salads, ice cream, hot and cold drinks, and even beer and wine from Ye Olde Mountain Play Beer and Wine Tavern.

2017 Mountain Play Disney's Beauty and the BeastDaniel Rubio (Beast) and Chelsea Holifield (Belle). Photo by Ed Smith

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 theatre are reserved for members and patrons with disabilities who have reserved spots in advance. Parking is available at the old Air Force base ($15 advance, $20 at the gate; cash olny). A shuttle bus will take playgoers to and from the amphitheater from the Air Force base parking lots. Carpooling is encouraged!

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 Spring area and the amphitheater can be sunny and hot. There are some areas of shade in the theater, but they're available on a first-come, first-served basis, or part of the reserved seating area. 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. 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.