Think Columbia doesn’t have enough culture and entertainment to offer? Think again. We have a large number of theatres for a city this size and they are all wonderful! Here’s your guide to family-friendly theatre and beyond in Columbia.
Founded in May of 2005, they are the Midlands’ premiere theatre for families and young audiences, and currently the area’s only theatre company dedicated solely to programming designed specifically for the youngest members of the community. Expect things like Cat in the Hat, Frog and Toad, and more favorites by some very talented people. As an added bonus, seating closest to the front of the stage is adorned with colorful, waterproof mats which children are encouraged to sit on to enjoy the show (without mom and dad worrying about wiggling kids making a huge mess). They also offer acting classes, summer camps, membership passes and open auditions for adults and children alike.
One of the oldest theaters in Columbia, this location offers open auditions and plays year-round, memberships, summer camps and mini productions staring local kids! It’s very family friendly. Recent shows include Shrek, Peter Pan, Tarzan, and Beauty and the Beast. Each production features wonderful music, a sizable cast, and elaborate sets. Ticket prices are around $25 per person, and it’s worth it.
This theatre offers an experience you won’t get anywhere else in the Midlands. The marionette theatre offers unique shows with some fabulous, state of the art marionette puppets. You can also hold children’s birthday parties here. Their impressive and immersive shows are just $5. It’s quite an experience! The lobby boasts an array of marionette puppets and includes an old-fashioned popcorn machine, where you can purchase popcorn for $1. And on the third Monday of each month, guests are invited behind the scenes after the show to get an up close look at how the performances are carried out.
Each year Workshop has at least one family-friendly play where they may cast children and young adults, experienced and new actors. Other shows include musicals and productions for mature audiences – we had a date night to see Young Frankenstein the Musical with friends. They’ve also hosted a Harry Potter trivia in the past. The original building was torn down to make way for the new law school, but they have a new location that is a must-see. Refreshments including alcohol have been served, so keep that in mind. Workshop Theatre also offers acting classes for all ages.
Lexington’s Community Theatre has kid friendly shows, shows open to kids to audition, classes, and more. Providing 50 years of family friendly entertainment, Village Square Theatre brings Broadway to your backyard!
This theatre boasts wonderful holiday and summer shows that are kid friendly and have open auditions for kids! Plus, you can enjoy them for as low as $10 each in advance. In 2008, they received Best Play honors for the comedy Dearly Beloved from the subscribers of the Columbia Theatre Community Central Yahoo Group. Currently they are building a new theatre and performing shows at the Harbison Theatre on the Midlands Tech Campus.
The ballet is a cultural experience for all ages. One of the Columbia City Ballet’s most popular show is The Nutcracker (their pre-show Nutcracker Tea usually sells out quickly). However, I also recall a favorite fourth-grade field trip to see Dracula, and this year they hosted a fairy tea prior to A Midsummer Night’s Dream. We took our two-year-old, and she loved it.
USC’s theater and dance department put on performances in this space, which survived the civil war. Rumored to be haunted, this building is the one with columns right by the historic USC Horseshoe.
This company puts on classical plays including Shakespeare and others. Performances are often held in the park for an authentic, low cost or free experience to the public.
This is the place to see USC performances, guest performers, popular visiting artists, and touring productions. This is also the place to see visiting Broadway shows from Broadway in Columbia.
Trustus is “dedicated to high-quality productions that speak to today’s most important issues.” They offer professional productions that explore a variety of subject matter. Shows are most often for adult audiences only. Enjoy recliner seats, free popcorn, and adult beverages.
Harbison Theatre is the new, state-of-the-art performing arts venue on the Harbison campus of Midlands Technical College, located 15 minutes from downtown Columbia. The theatre presents high-quality, innovative performances and events by internationally acclaimed touring groups as well as local arts organizations.
On Stage is a new theater in the Columbia/Lexington area. They offer a fresh perspective on each production they produce. On Stage also offers interactive and improvisational shows, which give audience members a unique experience each time they attend. This theatre hosts acting workshops, lessons, and a summer camp. You can even have birthday parties and events at this location.
Looking for more options? Check out your local high schools and colleges, library, Broadway Bound Columbia Musical Theatre Company productions, or a number of inspirational and church-based theatre programs.
As you can see, there are plenty of places to see a show for date night or family night, to step into the spotlight yourself, or let your kids climb on stage. So, as we say in the theatre everyone, PLACES!