Mountain Play Association

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The Mountain Play stage set up for a presentation of the musical Annie in 2003.

The Mountain Play Association is a 501(c)3 organization responsible for the production of theatrical events at the Sidney B. Cushing Amphitheater on Mount Tamalpais in Marin County, California. The stone amphitheater, named for the owner of the railroad company which constructed the Mount Tamalpais Scenic Railway, is at an elevation of 2,000 feet and has 4,000 seats. The organization was founded in 1913, and is a member of Theatre Bay Area and the North Bay Theatre Group.

The Mountain Play presents one musical a year, in May and June. In 2014, they presented South Pacific, from May 18 through June 15. Past productions have included Hairspray, Fiddler on the Roof, and Hair.

The mission statement of the Mountain Play Association reads, "The Mountain Play Association’s mission is to produce an annual, spectacular, outdoor theatrical experience that nurtures an appreciation of Mt. Tamalpais, involves and strengthens the community, and builds on decades of tradition."


Poster from the Mountain Play's first performance.jpg

First performance[edit]

One of the oldest non-profit theater companies in the area, the Mountain Play staged its first theatrical performances in the natural amphitheater on top of Mt. Tamalpais in Marin County in 1913. The first Mountain Play produced was Abraham and Isaac. Members of the audience hiked the eight miles from Mill Valley or steamed up the mountain on the Mount Tamalpais and Muir Woods Railway, the "Crookedest Railroad in the World." The Mountain Play Association (MPA) was formed the following year. Congressman William Kent, who owned the land on the mountain where the amphitheater stood, was one of its vice presidents.

List of performances [1][edit]

Year Performance Dates Play(s)
2018 May 20, 27, June 3, 9, 10, 17 Mamma Mia
2017 Summer Beauty and the Beast


2016 Summer West Side Story
2015 Summer Peter Pan
2014 Summer South Pacific
2013 Summer The Sound of Music (100th Anniversary)
2012 Summer The Music Man
2011 Summer Hairspray
2010 Summer Guys and Dolls
2009 Summer Man of La Mancha
2008 Summer Wizard of Oz
2007 Summer Hair
2006 Summer Fiddler on the Roof
2004 Summer My Fair Lady
2003 Summer Annie
2002 Summer Bye Bye Birdie
2001 Summer Oliver!
2000 Summer A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum
1999 Summer West Side Story
1998 Summer Hello Dolly
1997 Summer South Pacific
1996 Summer My Fair Lady
1995 Summer Guys & Dolls
1994 Summer Fiddler on the Roof
1993 Summer The Music Man
1992 Summer Oklahoma!
1991 Summer Wizard of Oz
1990 Summer Anything Goes
1989 Summer Brigadoon
1988 Summer South Pacific
1987 Summer King & I (75th Anniversary)
1986 Summer Peter Pan
1985 Summer The Sound of Music
1984 Summer Fiddler on the Roof
1983 Summer The Music Man
1982 Summer Oklahoma!
1981 Summer Annie Get Your Gun & Henry V
1980 Summer Carnival
1979 Summer Indians
1978 Summer Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum
1977 Summer Clothes
1976 Summer Celebration '76 : American music and dance retrospective
1975 Summer Music of America
1974 Summer Rough an' Ready
1973 Summer Picnic and hike, guest of honor State Senator Peter Behr excerpts from Oklahoma! and Jacques Brel
1972 Summer Rough an' Ready
1971 Summer Playboy of the Western World
1970 Summer Tamalpa
1969 Summer The World We Live In
1968 Summer Alice Through the Looking Glass
1967 Summer Kismet
1966 Summer Peer Gynt
1965 Summer Rough an' Ready
1964 Summer Flamenca
1963 Summer Tamalpa
1962 Summer Rip of the Mountain
1961 Summer Robin Hood
1960 Summer Alice in Wonderland
1959 Summer The Pied Piper
1958 Summer Rough an' Ready
1957 Summer Tamalpa
1956 Summer The Birds
1955 Summer The World We Live In
1954 Summer The Tempest
1953 Summer Tamalpa
1952 Summer Land of Oz
1951 Summer A Thousand Years Ago
1950 Summer Robin Hood
1949 Summer Rough an' Ready
1948 Summer If I Were King
1947 Summer Alice in Wonderland
1946 Summer Tamalpa
1945 No play (Grounds in use by US Army)
1941 Summer A Thousand Years Ago
1940 Summer The World We Live In
1939 Summer The Valiant Cossack
1938 Summer Tamalpa
1937 Summer Thunder in Paradise
1936 Summer Androcles and the Lion
1935 Summer The World We Live In (from Ross Valley Players)
1934 Summer The Girl of the Golden West
1933 Summer The Daughter of Jorio
1932 Summer Rob Roy
1931 Summer The Trail of the Padres
1930 Summer The Sunken Bell
1929 Summer Peer Gynt
1928 Summer Flamenca
1927 Summer The Gods of the Mountain
1926 Summer Rip Van Winkle
1925 Summer Drake
1924 No play (hoof & mouth disease epidemic)
1923 Summer Tamalpa
1922 Summer The Pied Piper
1921 Summer Tamalpa
1920 Summer As You Like It
1919 Summer Tally-Ho
1918 Summer Robin Hood
1917 Summer Jeppe-on-the-Hill
1916 Summer William Tell
1915 Summer Rip Van Winkle
1914 Summer Shakuntala
1913 Summer Abraham and Isaac

Sidney B. Cushing Memorial Amphitheater[edit]

In 1916, Kent deeded the theater to the MPA. Twenty years later, MPA turned the theater over to the state park, which then surrounded it, and over the next ten years the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) worked to install the massive serpentine stones that now form the 4000-seat Sidney B. Cushing Memorial Amphitheater. The theater was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2015.

Since 1977, when Marilyn Smith took over as executive director, the Mountain Play presented Broadway musicals on the mountain.

In 1980, the Mountain Play introduced sign language interpretation at its May performances on Mt. Tamalpais. In the early 1980s, special accommodations were developed for patrons with wheelchairs, including the grading of a path to the theater 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 theater 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 retirement center in Mill Valley for an audience of elderly patrons who can no longer make it up to the mountain.

See also[edit]


External links[edit]

Coordinates: 37°54′45″N 122°36′30″W / 37.91258°N 122.60844°W / 37.91258; -122.60844