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Happy 100th, Mountain Play!

The "Sound of Music" will sing at the rustic Mt. Tamalpais venue.

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Happy 100th, Mountain Play!

Elisabeth Ptak

A cultural favorite atop Mt. Tamalpais? That's Mountain Play, of course. It turns 100 in 2013.

STEAM TO STAGE: How did you reach the last theater you attended? A cab? Your car? An airplane, if you went Broadway? Those are some of the standard ways one gets to an auditorium, but hiking six miles, or steaming to the venue on the "Crookedest Railroad in the World," is not a common mode of transport. But the Mountain Play, a rustic alfresco experience atop Mt. Tamalpais, is not your common theater outing. Founded in 1913, the open-air stage soon became a warm-weather classic in Marin County, presenting afternoon plays to eager audiences who arrive a little flushed-of cheek and ready for culture. (Well, "flushed-of-cheek" if the audience member happened to brave that six-mile hike up). The Crookedest Railroad in the World is no more, but you can take a shuttle to the Cushing Memorial Amphitheatre in its place. (And, yep, you're still invited to hike or bike up.) And with all of that physical exertion, a picnic is encouraged, so you'll want to pack one before seeing out on your mountain-culture expedition.

THE 2013 SEASON: It's the 100th season for the Mountain Play, so a golden musical is the order of the day. And, yep, it is pretty dang golden all right: "The Sound of Music" will pull out the guitar and do some yodeling on select dates from May 19 through June 16. Shows start at 2 p.m. -- no stage lights -- so make your picnic a lunch. A ticket? That's $20 to $40.

THEATER'S RUSTIC TRADITION: Our modern stages are technical whizbangs, and a true hooray to that. But cheers to the Mountain Play for keeping the bucolic drama alive. It's a form of theater that's been around since the idea of theater formed. Meaning that even though the Mountain Play is now a century-old, it is still a wee youngster within its larger genre. Here's to many more years, crooked railroad or no.

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