Marin Arts & Culture May 2017 - Page 12

part of the fun throughout the day. “In many ways, it will look like a Mountain Play day,” Pearson says. However, she adds, “Just by adding one new show, we’ve reached out to a whole new group of people. We want everyone to come and enjoy the Mountain Play. Our culture has always been, and will always be, really deeply rooted in how we can include people.” Beauty and the Beast Face painting is part of the pre-show entertainment at the Mountain Play. The anniversary celebration will be more refined than the gathering in 1967, but it will retain the spirit of that seminal year with live bands and a concert version of Hair, the daring and irreverent rock musical from the late 1960s, on the Main Stage in the afternoon. The performance, with Jeff Wiesen as director, David Möschler as musical director and choreography by Zoe Swenson-Graham, will include the entire playlist of songs, but none of the famed nudity. “The main thing is the songs,” says Sara Pearson, executive director of the Mountain Play, who explains that daytime lighting isn’t conducive to bare bodies on stage, and the concert Daniel Rubio portrays the Beast in Disney’s ‘Beauty and the Beast’. 12 MARIN ARTS & CULTURE version doesn’t include the staging. Rather, to meet the challenge of doing two different shows on the same stage on consecutive days, the performance will take place on the Beauty and the Beast set, and the hippies will take over the castle. The grove that usually serves as a play area for the Mountain Play will serve as a second stage for live music, stiltwalkers, face-painting and food and drink, and will be Disney’s Beauty and the Beast is the more traditional family fare that the Mountain Play’s audiences love and expect. It’s an old and familiar story put to music with a moral that’s subtle, but will resonate with young audiences. Ultimately, Pearson observes, it’s a tale of the strength of character it takes to see the value of a person, even though it’s hidden. “The lesson that you learn is that it’s important to look beneath the surface to see who’s really in there,” she says, adding that The Amphitheatre on Mt. Tam The Mountain Play’s first show took place in 1913. The outdoor theater was popular at the time, and it was a success from the outset, with 1,200 people taking the Mt. Tamalpais Scenic Railway’s gravity car to travel up the mountain from Mill Valley to see Abraham and Isaac, a 14th century mystery play, and scenes from Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night. In 1916, William Kent, who owned the land, gave it to the Mountain Play Association, which turned it over to California State Parks in 1936. In the 1930s, with the aid of Works Progress Administration (WPA) funding, the Civilian Conservation Corps began a 10-year project to install the huge serpentine boulders that serve as seating. Emerson Knight was the designer, and he based his plans on an ancient Greek amphitheater, while taking into account the mountain environment. The amphitheater is named for one of hikers in a group that happened upon the spot in 1912 and decided it was a good place to put on a play. The Mountain Play’s history is preserved in the Anne T. Kent California Room at the Civic Center Library.