Today Ken and I went to Mountain Play 2005-Oklahoma. It's the first time I've been to this event, but I'm hoping it won't be the last. I do have to thank my friend Howard Haberman, who is on the board of The Mountain Play, for suggesting that we go.
The Mountain Play is held in a natural amphitheater on the top of Mount Tamalpais-Mt Tam-in Marin county, across the Golden Gate from San Francisco. It's a tradition that started in 1913 with the production a play called "Abraham and Isaac." In 1936 the land became part of the surrounding state park. Over the next 10 years, the Civilian Conservation Corps installed stone seats as part of a WPA project. And that's how we have it today. (This info, and more, can be found here.)
It's a wonderful setting to enjoy musical theater, this year especially, since they didn't need to install a stage--the ground was perfect for Oklahoma! They used their sets well, just a house, a barn, and a "smokehouse" that revolved to show the inside when needed. The forest of trees served as it's own natural setting. The performances were great, the cast sang beautifully. We sat near a women I know from Beth Sholom, Tamar, and her 4-year-old daughter Elianna, who really enjoyed the play. There were lots of kids, and most of them seemed to be enthralled with the show. The few that cried--well, that's the advantage of being outside--it was easy enough for the parents to whisk them out of the amphitheater.
Big kudos go to the organization. It's a long, winding road up Mt Tam, and not a lot of parking. So you drive to a commuter lot just past Sausalito and there's a shuttle bus that makes the trek up the mountain. You can hike in as well, although that will take about 3 hours. What's nice is they make it easy for you to hike out, if you'd like. They will take your coolers and any other bags down to a drop off point in Mill Valley where the trail ends and once again supply a shuttle bus to get you to your car. We didn't hike down today--I didn't have the correct shoes, plus I needed to get home to prepare for tonight's teaching (more on that later in the week after Shavuot).
But if you live in the San Francisco Bay Area, or plan to visit during the end of May/beginning of June, I would highly recommend putting the Mountain Play on your to-do list. Next year's production will be Fiddler On The Roof. With the mountains for backdrop, it will be the perfect setting for the shtetle of Anatevka.