Marin Theatre Company had modest grassroots beginnings. In 1966, 35 Mill Valley residents came together under the leadership of Sali Lieberman to create the Mill Valley Center for the Performing Arts [MVCPA]. The nonprofit organization brought arts as diverse as film, theater, poetry, dance and concerts of classical, jazz and folk music to Marin County for a decade. After a number of successful community theater productions, MVCPA began to exclusively produce and present theater performances in 1977.
The small group overcame many challenges to put on critically-acclaimed, award-winning plays in a golf clubhouse, a veterans’ auditorium and several schools and parks. To acknowledge the organization’s specialization in theater arts and expanded regional focus, MVCPA changed its name to Marin Theatre Company in 1984. This marked the beginning of a period of extraordinary growth.
By 1987, MTC had become a professional theater company, opening its own theater complex with onsite administrative offices and joining with other local theaters to negotiate the first regional equity contract in the Bay Area. Since then, MTC began a new play program to support emerging American playwrights, launching a New Works developmental workshop and public reading series in 2004 and establishing two new play prizes in 2007. MTC joined both the League of Resident Theatres and National New Play Network in 2008. MTC is now the leading professional theater in the North Bay and premier mid-sized theater in the Bay Area.
35 residents of the greater Mill Valley area, under the leadership of Sali Lieberman, are organized by Mayor Albert E. White and appointed to a Performing Arts Committee. The committee forms the Mill Valley Center for the Performing Arts (MVCPA) with an endorsement from the City Council, and begins operating under the newly created Arts Commission. This is the first group of its kind in the Bay Area to receive official sanction from a city.
Bay Area pianist Julian White opens MVCPA’s first season, which includes concert recitals, dance, film series and theater productions presented at the Mill Valley Golf Clubhouse. MVCPA’s first play is Friedrich Duerrenmatt’s The Physicists.
MVCPA incorporates as a nonprofit. A.J. Esta becomes MVCPA’s first artistic director; Sali Lieberman becomes MVCPA’s first managing director
MVCPA gains visibility when it draws “capacity audiences every night” for its critically acclaimed production of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, adapted by Dale Wasserman from Ken Kesey’s novel and directed by Robin Jackson. The following year, future MTC Artistic Director Lee Sankowich mounts a commercial San Francisco production of the play, starring three members of the MVCPA cast. That production runs for five years, becoming the longest running show in San Francisco history. Robert Adler becomes artistic director.
MVCPA produces theater exclusively for its 1972-73 Season. Offering six shows, MVCPA sells season tickets for the first time (all six shows for $12).
MVCPA begins offering concerts again. Start of 1973-74 Season delayed by a moratorium on use of Golf Clubhouse by the City Council because of recommendations by the fire chief and building inspector for "fire prevention" retrofits. Will Marchetti becomes MVCPA’s Managing Director.
MVCPA begins producing theater exclusively again, offering six shows. MVCPA sells season tickets for the second time in history, 6 shows are $15. Sali Lieberman becomes MVCPA’s Managing Director again. During the run of Clifford Odet’s The Flowering Peach, the Golf Clubhouse burns down and the remainder of the 1975-76 Season is cancelled.
MVCPA is largely inactive while the City of Mill Valley rebuilds the Golf Clubhouse. It stages a few productions at Edna McGuire School and Marin Veterans Auditorium.
MVCPA inaugurates new Golf Clubhouse with production of N. Richard Nash’s The Rainmaker. Robin Jackson becomes Managing Director.
MVCPA serves as the fiscal sponsor to the newly-formed Mill Valley Film Festival, which presents films in the Golf Clubhouse. Will Marchetti becomes MVCPA’s President. Michelle Swanson becomes MVCPA’s Artistic Director.
Will Marchetti becomes MVCPA’s Artistic Director. Marchetti expands the company’s repertory to include original work, committing to produce one premiere each season. MVCPA establishes a full-time Theatre Arts School.
MVCPA opens first administrative office above Davood’s Restaurant in downtown Mill Valley. MVCPA receives grant from San Francisco Foundation to support 15th Anniversary. MVCPA has 180 subscribers. Sali Lieberman becomes MVCPA’s Managing Director again.
MVCPA celebrates 15th Season. MVCPA receives three-year grant from San Francisco Foundation to support a part-time marketing and public relations director. MVCPA offers special concerts, including Kronos Quartet.
MVCPA establishes M.A.S.K. (Marin Acting School for Kids). MVCPA completes feasibility study and announces interest in purchasing 397 Miller Avenue (known as the “Port”) to build its own theater with rehearsal space, dressing rooms, concessions and storage. MVCPA has 350 subscribers. MVCPA founder Sali Lieberman dies in October. Harry Perlis becomes Interim Managing Director.
Hired the previous year as MVCPA’s first dramaturg, Karl Rawicz becomes Artistic Director. He replaces Will Marchetti, who leaves to join the cast of the Off Broadway production of Sam Shepard's Fool for Love with Circle Repertory Company. Andrew Zarillo becomes MVCPA’s first full-time Executive Director.
MVCPA purchases and begins renovations on 397 Miller Avenue, home to our current theater. Karl Rawicz’s position of Artistic Director is upgraded to full-time for the first time in organization’s history. MVCPA changes its name to Marin Theatre Company (MTC).
MTC’s 99-seat Studio Theatre, now known as the Lieberman Theatre, opens. MTC stages its 1986-87 Season in the new theater beginning with Susan Cooper and Hume Cronyn’s Foxfire.
MTC celebrates 20th anniversary. Will Marchetti becomes Artistic Director again. Capital Campaign is completed thanks to a generous $500,000 donation from Genentech founder Herb Boyer.
MTC’s 250-seat proscenium theater, now known as the Boyer Theatre, opens. MTC stages its 1987-88 Season in the new theater beginning with Nina Shengold’s Homesteaders. MTC joins other local theaters in forming the Coalition of Bay Area Theaters, which successfully negotiates a Bay Area regional contract with Actors’ Equity Association.
Noises Off by Michael Frayn, directed by Richard Seyd, enjoys a sold-out extended run at MTC, then transfers to the Marines Memorial Theatre in San Francisco, where it ran for 10 months.
Lee Sankowich becomes Artistic Director; Richard Wright becomes Managing Director.
MTC celebrates 25th Anniversary Season. Regina Lickteig becomes Managing Director.
Departing Board President Herb Boyer establishes MTC’s endowment with a generous gift of $500,000.
Subscriber attendance at an all time high, with 40 performances sold out.
NEA awards MTC its first grant. Both NEA and California Arts Council, in their evaluations, praise MTC for its rapid transformation from a community to a professional theater.
Artistic Director Lee Sankowich remounts his successful production of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest 25 years after his original commercial production opened in San Francisco.
MTC celebrates 30th Anniversary Season. L.A. Law stars Jill Eikenberry and Michael Tucker star in the West Coast premiere of Emma’s Child by Kristine Thatcher.
MTC partners with Allegro Theatre Company to produce a revival of the musical Pal Joey. This will be the first of six musicals produced in partnership with Allegro. Jim Kleinman becomes Managing Director.
MTC stages the world premiere of the newly discovered Spring Storm by Tennessee Williams. Directed by Artistic Director Lee Sankowich, the successful production garners national press recognition and an extended run.
The Lieberman Theatre is refurbished and reopens. A revival of the musical Lady in the Dark, directed by Artistic Director Lee Sankowich and co-produced with Allegro Theatre Company, receives an extended run and becomes MTC’s 7th best selling show of all time. Gabriella Calicchio becomes Managing Director.
A revival of the musical Wonderful Town, directed by Artsitic Director Lee Sankowich and co-produced with Allegro Theatre Company, receives an extended run and becomes MTC’s 5th best selling show of all time.
MTC produces the professional world premiere of Fugitive Kind by Tennessee Williams. The discovery of the play and the production are filmed for a documentary that remains unfinished due to the untimely death of the filmmaker shortly before the play opened.
Artistic Director Lee Sankowich partners with One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest playwright Dale Wasserman to adapt the music of Duke Ellington into the world premiere musical Beggar’s Holiday. Deborah Zoe Laufer’s The Last Schwartz, starring L.A. Law stars Jill Eikenberry and Michael Tucker and directed by Artistic Director Lee Sankowich, extends its run and becomes MTC’s best selling show of all time.
Tracy Letts’s Killer Joe, directed by Artsitic Director Lee Sankowich, enjoys an extended run, becoming MTC’s 6th best selling show of all time. It transfers to a commercial run in San Francisco. Artistic Director Lee Sankowich retires after 16 years. Jasson Minadakis becomes Artistic Director.
MTC celebrates its 40th Anniversary Season. It establishes two national playwriting prizes, generously funded by Norton J. “Sky” Cooper: the Sky Cooper New American Play Prize and the David Calicchio Emerging American Playwright Prize. Gabriella Calicchio departs to become Managing Director of the Tony Award-winning Children’s Theatre in Minneapolis.
Ryan Rilette becomes Producing Director. MTC joins the League of Resident Theaters (LORT). Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris enjoys an extended run and becomes MTC’s 10th best selling show of all time.
Athol Fugard's My Children! My Africa!, directed by Education Director Josh Costello, extends its run and becomes MTC’s 9th best selling show of all time.
MTC establishes an Artistic and Operating Reserve Fund, thanks to a generous $500,000 donation from board member Chris Smith. It also has a string of mega-hits. Equivocation by Bill Cain, directed by Artistic Director Jasson Minadakis, receives rave critical reviews and an extended run, becoming MTC’s 2nd-best selling show of all time. It is immediately followed by a revival of Woody Guthrie’s American Song, which extends and becomes MTC’s 4th best selling show of all time. That is followed at the start of the next season by a co-production of Tarell Alvin McCraney’s The Brother/Sister Plays trilogy, which MTC co-produces with A.C.T. and Magic Theatre. MTC’s production of the first play in the trilogy, In The Red & Brown Water, directed by Producing Director Ryan Rilette, extends its run and becomes MTC’s 3rd best selling show of all time. It is immediately followed by the world premiere of 9 Circles by Bill Cain, which is produced in the Lieberman Theater after winning the theater’s Sky Cooper Award, and is later awarded the Harold and Mimi Steinberg / American Theatre Critics Association’s New American Play Prize for the best new play to premiere outside of New York.
MTC opens a 5,560 square foot scene shop in Oakland, thanks to a generous grant from Gage Shubert. A revival of August Wilson’s Seven Guitars enjoys rave reviews and an extended run, becoming MTC’s 8th best selling show of all time.
MTC celebrates its 45th Anniversary Season.