The historic Mountain Play returns to Tamalpais for its 101st season on May 18. This year, Cushing Memorial Amphitheatre sets the stage for a production of South Pacific, a Rodgers and Hammerstein musical based on the 1947 book, Tales of the South Pacific by James A. Michener. The story revolves around two parallel love stories: one featuring an American nurse stationed on an island in the South Pacific during World War II (WWII), where she falls for a French expat, and the other between a lieutenant and a young native woman (same island). And although the show is filled with upbeat musical numbers and comedic elements, the plot touches on a couple sensitive subjects — racism is a theme throughout, as the American nurse attempts to accept her new beau’s mix-raced children, as is war, which serves as a backdrop to the romance.
If you have never attended the Mountain Play, here are five reasons why you need to check it out this season:
1. Cushing Memorial Amphitheatre is a tangible piece of history, and so is the Mountain Play itself — the first production took place in 1913, and the serpentine stones that serve as seats weren’t put in place until 1933.
2. It’s a truly unique was to get outside. Take a bus up from Mill Valley, and enjoy a leisurely hike down the mountainside post-production.
3. It’s unlike any other theater experience. As you sit on native stones, surrounded by locals, you are given the opportunity to enjoy a full-scale musical with amazing sets — but on a clear day, all you have to do is shift your eyes a few degrees to take in views of Mill Valley, the Bay and the San Francisco skyline.
4. The final show is on Father’s Day. Can you think of a better way to hang with Dad than an outdoor show, a hike down the mountain and dinner in downtown Mill Valley? I think not.
5. The Mountain Play Association is run by locals who care deeply about nature, art and community. Your support keeps this tradition alive.