.Mountain Play Gets ‘Kinky’

The last few years have been exceedingly challenging for the theater community, and Mill Valley’s Mountain Play is no different.

“Since 2019, the Mountain Play has been weathering storms,” said executive director Eileen Grady, “both literal and figurative. From the climate crisis to employment law changes, to the pandemic and its aftershocks, we’ve been through it all. Theater companies came back, but we returned to a whole new world. We are filled with gratitude for our community members who have really stepped up to the plate with contributions that have helped us survive this new world. We’re still here because of them.”

This year’s production is Kinky Boots, the Cindi Lauper/Harvey Fierstein musical about a struggling London shoe factory that turns to manufacturing footwear for drag queens to survive. It’s an interesting choice for the company.

music in the park san jose
music in the park san jose

“We’re always looking for new stories to tell on the mountain,” said Grady. “It’s a universal celebration of self-acceptance, community and kindness.”

But it ain’t no Sound of Music.

“There are always concerns about subject matter with play selections,” continued Grady. “Humans have evolved since the golden age of musical theater, so even the Rodgers & Hammerstein classics have moments of subject matter that don’t play well when viewed through today’s lens. Kinky Boots is about acceptance. One would hope that wouldn’t turn any one off. We sure hope our audience stays with us and that we find new friends to join us.”

Director/choreographer Gary Stanford, Jr. agrees. “This musical is one of the most fun stage experiences an audience could wish for in terms of pure entertainment,” said Stanford. “You’re going to want to dance, clap to the beat, laugh and even cry. It’s also a show about humanity. It weaves together many aspects of society where everyone comes together for a common cause.”

Stanford has enjoyed the challenges inherent to the Mountain Play. “I think it’s safe to say that this is the most challenging venue in the entire Bay Area. Dealing with the heat, the thin air and drastic weather changes while wearing makeup and full costumes for singing and dancing requires a stamina that is not a normal requirement for a stage actor!”

“We really want to remind everyone how healthy it is for us all to experience theater and that the arts truly are a remedy for a lot of personal and social ills,” concluded Grady. “We hope our audience returns to the Mountain Play being an annual tradition.”

‘Kinky Boots’ runs Sundays through June 16 at the Cushing Memorial Amphitheatre in Mount Tamalpais State Park, 801 Panoramic Hwy., Mill Valley. 2pm. $25–$190. 415.383.1100. mountainplay.org.

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