Exploring the Vibrant Theatre Scene in Columbia, MO

As an expert in the theatre industry, I have had the opportunity to witness the growth and evolution of theatres in Columbia, MO over the years. From traditional plays to experimental performances, there is something for everyone in this charming Midwestern city.

The History of Theatre in Columbia

The history of theatre in Columbia dates back to the early 1900s when the first theatre, the Columbia Theatre, was built. It was a popular venue for vaudeville shows and silent films. However, it wasn't until the 1960s that the theatre scene really started to take off with the establishment of Stephens College, a women's college known for its prestigious theatre program. Stephens College has produced many successful actors and actresses, including Academy Award winner Jennifer Tilly and Tony Award winner Judy Kaye.

The college's theatre program continues to thrive and has become a major contributor to the theatre scene in Columbia.

Theatre Companies in Columbia

One of the most unique aspects of the theatre scene in Columbia is the presence of several community theatre companies. These companies are made up of local actors and volunteers who are passionate about bringing live performances to their community.

Talking Horse Productions

is one such company that has been making waves in Columbia since its establishment in 2011. They are known for their thought-provoking productions that tackle social issues and push boundaries. Their intimate black box theatre provides a unique and immersive experience for the audience.

Maplewood Barn Theatre

is another community theatre company that has been entertaining audiences since 1973. What sets them apart is their outdoor amphitheater, which adds a touch of nature to their performances. From Shakespeare to musicals, Maplewood Barn Theatre offers a diverse range of shows throughout the year.

The Missouri Theatre

The Missouri Theatre is a historic landmark in Columbia that has been a hub for performing arts since its opening in 1928. It was originally built as a movie palace and has undergone several renovations over the years.

Today, it is home to the Missouri Symphony Society and hosts a variety of events, including concerts, dance performances, and of course, theatre productions. The Missouri Theatre is not only known for its stunning architecture but also for its state-of-the-art facilities. It has a large stage, orchestra pit, and advanced lighting and sound systems, making it a popular venue for touring Broadway shows and other large-scale productions.

The University of Missouri's Theatre Program

The University of Missouri's theatre program is another major contributor to the theatre scene in Columbia. The program offers a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in theatre with concentrations in acting, design/technical production, and playwriting/directing. One of the unique aspects of this program is its partnership with Missouri Repertory Theatre, a professional theatre company that brings Broadway-quality productions to Columbia. This collaboration provides students with hands-on experience and the opportunity to work alongside professional actors and directors.

The True/False Film Fest

While not strictly related to theatre, the True/False Film Fest is an annual event that has become an integral part of the arts scene in Columbia.

This four-day festival celebrates documentary films and features screenings, panel discussions, and live performances. What makes this festival unique is its unconventional approach to film screenings. Instead of traditional movie theaters, films are shown in various venues throughout the city, including churches, warehouses, and even a parking garage. This creates a one-of-a-kind experience for both filmmakers and audiences.

The Future of Theatre in Columbia

The theatre scene in Columbia continues to grow and evolve, thanks to the dedication and passion of the local community. With the recent addition of Ragtag Cinema, a non-profit arthouse cinema that also hosts live performances, there is no doubt that the arts will continue to thrive in this charming college town. As an expert in the theatre industry, I am excited to see what the future holds for theatres in Columbia, MO.

With its unique blend of community theatre, professional productions, and innovative events, this small town has proven that it can hold its own in the world of performing arts.

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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