COLUMBIA — Men and women in T-shirts and jeans helped each other unload various pieces of furniture off trucks and into a barn.
The rust-red barn has been under construction for almost two years since the original Maplewood Barn Community Theatre burned in April 2010.
"Fiddler on the Roof" — May 24 to 27, May 31 to June 3 and June 7 to 10
"How the Other Half Loves" — June 28 to July 1 and July 5 to 8
"Hamlet" — July 26 to 29 and Aug. 2 to 5
"Wait Until Dark" – Aug. 23 to 26 and Aug. 30 to Sept. 2
On Saturday, play directors, board members and a few actors moved props and furniture from trailers where the items have been stored since the fire to the new barn.
"It's an upgrade for sure," Alana Barragan-Scott, secretary on the board of directors, said.
The new barn is more secure and better protects material from the elements, Barragan-Scott said. The open space in the barn allows more flexibility to try more complicated things with sets.
The barn has a back room for set and prop building, men and women dressing rooms and bathrooms, long-term storage areas and one window for the ticket box and concessions.
Although the new barn is not much bigger than the original, there will be room to move the play and audience members inside in case it rains, Michael Scott, board president, said.
In the first 24 hours after the original barn was destroyed, Scott said the response from the community was amazing.
People in surrounding towns offered their stages, and at least two people were willing to just give away their own barns, Scott said.
Although moving an entire barn was not likely, rebuilding the lost barn was made possible by the help and support of many volunteers.
Among the long list of helpers, Columbia and Parks and Recreation was the biggest help, Scott said.
Overall it was a "giant, wonderful public response," he said.
Although the barn was gone, the entire season still started only one week late, Scott said.
It's "great to have the space back," Dana Naylor, vice president, said. Naylor has been involved with Maplewood barn since she was 12 years old. Now her son, Hunter, 10, is a part of the Maplewood family, too.
It will be really exciting to bring the new barn into a new era, she said.
The barn's first season in the new space will begin May 24 with "Fiddler on the Roof," directed by Molly Dodge.
Starting with a musical will allow the season to "open with a bang," Dodge said.
The cast of 40 members, ages 10 to more than 80 years old, have been practicing since the end of March at the First Baptist Church. Dodge has directed four plays for Maplewood since she moved here in 2008.
Dodge applied to be a director for Maplewood. "I felt blessed that they picked me up as director right away," Dodge said with tears in her eyes.
"They're like family," she said of the board and community members involved with Maplewood.
Brad Buchanan agreed with Dodge and said it's the people that keep him coming back.
"Everybody is here to have fun," he said pointing out that people had been making jokes and singing all morning as they worked. He also does the play adaptations for the Maplewood Barn Radio Theatre show on KBIA.
His wife, Barbara, whom he met through theater, is also involved with Maplewood and their son, Ian, 27, will be performing in "Fiddler on the Roof."
Buchanan is directing another play this summer, "How the Other Half Loves." Auditions are May 14 and 15.