Stephens Lake Park Amphitheater debuted to the public

Saturday, June 26, 2010 | 9:48 p.m. CDT; updated 9:56 p.m. CDT, Saturday, June 26, 2010
Stephens Lake Park Amphitheater opened Saturday with performances from the Maplewood Barn Community Theatre and the Columbia Community Band. "This is the final piece of Stephens Lake Park," Dan Devine, of the Parks and Recreation Commission, said.

COLUMBIA — The new amphitheater at Stephens Lake Park opened Saturday with performances from two local groups.

The Maplewood Barn Community Theatre presented the play "The Revenge of the Space Pandas" and sang "Hail to Thee, George Topax."

About half of the amphitheater, which was designed to accommodate about 1,000 people, was filled. The new amphitheater is located at the northwest side of Stephens Lake Park.

Chris Bowling, the director of the Maplewood Barn Community Theatre, said he was "delirious" about the grand opening. 

Bowling added that the amphitheater would be a good alternative location for his company. The original Maplewood Barn Community Theatre theater burned down on April 5, according to a previous Missourian article.

Christopher Gould, a theater member who performed Saturday as "Bob the Sheep," said he was happy to be one of the first actors performing on the new stage.

Those in attendance praised the new facility.

"It is going to be a great facility for the arts in Columbia," said Jerry Kent, a trumpet player for the Columbia Community Band.

Jason Kinnear, who attended the opening performance with his wife and four children, said he liked that the amphitheater is free to the public.

The new amphitheater is the last piece of the Stephens Lake Park master plan. Previously completed projects include waterfalls and spraygrounds.

Construction of the amphitheater is not entirely finished. Park Development Superintendent Steve Saitta said some work still needs to be done on the orchestra pit, concrete walkways, site lighting and on some landscaping.

The city is providing $45,250 for the project, but part of that is supported by a $20,250 Land and Water Conservation Fund grant the city received in 2008.

Mike Hood, director of the Columbia Parks and Recreation Department, said the recent wet weather slowed, but didn't stop, the project.

The Columbia Parks and Recreation Department has not yet scheduled another performance for the stage.

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