Mountain Play Magic with the Music Man
May 30, 2012Posted by pamela |
Where can you see a colorful musical theater production with a professional cast in an idyllic outdoor setting with amazing panoramic views of the San Francisco Bay Area? The Mountain Play, of course! We had a chance last Sunday to catch this year's production (the 99th—it's been a Marin County tradition since 1913) of Meredith Willson's The Music Man, and it was a delight from beginning to end.
Marin musical favorite Susan Zelinsky was outstanding in the starring role of River City, Iowa librarian and piano teacher Marian Paroo, while Robert Moorhead charmed as the smooth-talking yet ultimately good-hearted con man Harold Hill, who convinces the citizens of River City that the only way to keep their sons out of the billiard parlor and away from trouble (with a capital "T") is to get them into a boys' marching band.
Tickets are still available for the remaining Mountain Play performances, which take place on June 3, 10, 16, and 17. All shows begin at 2 pm.
A funny and entertaining tribute to small-town USA, The Music Man is a Broadway classic that tells the story of traveling salesman and con man "Professor" Harold Hill, who bamboozles the people of River City into buying instruments and uniforms for a boys' marching band that will probably never come to be. Hill knows he's met his match in Marian the Librarian, who as the town's piano teacher is the only person who can see through his musical ruse.
The Music Man's memorable score includes such popular standards as Seventy Six Trombones, Till There Was You, and Ya Got Trouble, all of which were performed wonderfully by the Mountain Play's cast. In addition to Zelinsky and Moorhead, standout performances were Randy Nazarian as Hill's old collaborator and River City resident Marcellus Washburn, the River City School Board barber shop quartet (performed by Joe Osborn, Sean O'Brien, Daniel Bort, and Kit Grimm), and Jeremy Kaplan as Winthrop Paroo.
This experience is a lot of fun for the whole family—our kids were in rapt attention for the entire performance. They loved the imaginative sets and the little moments of verisimilitude, like the moving train set, the actual horse and wagon that shows up during the Wells Fargo Wagon number, and the appearance an actual marching band (from Novato's Sinaloa Middle School) in the final number.
This is the 30th and final production directed by Mountain Play veteran and Marin County theater legend James Dunn, and the action was accompanied by a live 14-piece orchestra conducted by Debra Chambliss (unseen behind the scenery but certainly heard). Of course the play itself is only just a part of the Mountain Play experience, which also includes live music, picnics, food and drink, and hiking.
If You Go
General seating tickets to the Mountain Play cost $30–$40, and children age 4–13 are only $15! (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. You can also buy your tickets at the door; the box office opens at 9 am. Performances start at 2 pm and end around 4:30 pm, but of course you'll want to get there early for maximum fun.
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 area can be above it all and bathed in bright sunlight. Of course it can be windy and foggy, too. 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, although drinking fountains and drink concessions are available at the play. Amphitheater seats are all stone blocks, so stadium cushions, pillows, blankets, and other forms of padding are a good idea, too. You can rent pads at the amphitheater, and reserved seats have pads in place already.
The Mountain Play takes place at the Cushing Memorial Amphitheater in Mount Tamalpais State Park. While you can park up at the amphitheater, which is located near the Rock Springs trailhead and parking area, parking there is very limited, and fills up early in the day.
The traditional way to get to the Mountain Play is to take one of the free shuttle buses up from Tamalpais High School or the Manzanita Park-and-Ride Lot (near the Buckeye restaurant). Buses leave approximately every 15 minutes starting at 10 am, and will take you back down the mountain after the play.