The Magic of Outdoor Theatre in Columbia, MO

As an expert in the world of theatre, I have always been captivated by the magic of live performances. And when it comes to experiencing that magic under the stars, there's nothing quite like watching a play or musical in an outdoor theatre. Luckily for those living in or visiting Columbia, MO, there are plenty of options to choose from.

The History of Outdoor Theatres in Columbia, MO

Columbia has a rich history when it comes to outdoor theatres. The first one was built in 1930 and was known as the "Ozark Amphitheater." Located on the University of Missouri campus, it was a popular spot for various performances, including plays, concerts, and even political rallies. Unfortunately, the Ozark Amphitheater was demolished in 1960 to make way for new campus buildings.

But that didn't stop the love for outdoor performances in Columbia. In fact, the city now has several outdoor theatres that offer a variety of shows and events throughout the year.

Theatre Under the Stars at Stephens Lake Park

One of the most popular outdoor theatres in Columbia is Theatre Under the Stars at Stephens Lake Park. This beautiful amphitheater is located in the heart of the park and offers a stunning setting for live performances. Theatre Under the Stars hosts a variety of events throughout the year, including plays, musicals, concerts, and even movie nights. With a seating capacity of 500 people and lawn seating available, it's a great spot for both intimate and larger shows. One event that stands out at Theatre Under the Stars is their annual Shakespeare in the Park.

This free event brings classic Shakespeare plays to life in a beautiful outdoor setting, making it a must-see for any theatre lover.

Maplewood Barn Theatre

Another beloved outdoor theatre in Columbia is the Maplewood Barn Theatre. This community theatre has been around since 1973 and is located in Nifong Park. Housed in a historic barn, it offers a unique and charming setting for performances. The Maplewood Barn Theatre puts on a variety of shows throughout the year, including plays, musicals, and children's productions. They also offer special events, such as murder mystery dinners and improv nights. What makes the Maplewood Barn Theatre even more special is that it is entirely run by volunteers.

This creates a strong sense of community and passion for the arts within the theatre.

Rose Park Amphitheater

The Rose Park Amphitheater is another outdoor venue in Columbia that offers a beautiful setting for live performances. Located in Rose Park, it can seat up to 300 people. The Rose Park Amphitheater hosts a variety of events throughout the year, including concerts, plays, and movie nights. It's also a popular spot for weddings and other special events. One event that draws crowds to the Rose Park Amphitheater is their annual "Summerfest." This free event features live music, food trucks, and family-friendly activities, making it a perfect way to spend a summer evening in Columbia.

Other Outdoor Performance Venues in Columbia

In addition to these three main outdoor theatres, there are several other venues in Columbia that offer outdoor performances. These include Peace Park, Flat Branch Park, and Shelter Gardens. Peace Park, located on the University of Missouri campus, often hosts concerts and other events throughout the year.

Flat Branch Park is another popular spot for outdoor performances, with a stage and seating area available for events. Shelter Gardens, a beautiful botanical garden, also hosts outdoor concerts and performances during the summer months. It's a peaceful and scenic setting for live music and theatre.


In conclusion, Columbia, MO has a thriving outdoor theatre scene that offers something for everyone. Whether you're in the mood for a classic Shakespeare play or a fun musical, there's an outdoor venue in Columbia that will meet your needs. So next time you're in town, be sure to check out one of these outdoor theatres and experience the magic of live performances under the stars.

Randal Swed
Randal Swed

Extreme music lover. Devoted pop culture lover. Subtly charming bacon buff. Hipster-friendly social media buff. Infuriatingly humble pop culture specialist. Evil communicator.

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