Land of Amazing Theater

balletLiving in the land of cold and snow, we have good reason to search out things to do inside. (It’s 9 degrees as I type this – in the middle of March, for Pete’s sake.) Our local arts community is extensive, varied and simply amazing.

We have the country’s oldest running privately owned theater – The Old Log Theater in Excelsior. We also have the country’s largest dinner theater – The Chanhassen Dinner Theater in (of course) Chanhassen. And we have the world-renowned Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis and the Ordway Theater in St. Paul. Over the coming weeks, I’ll highlight what’s happening at each of these venues, as well as some of the other playhouses in the Twin Cities. Like I said – theater here is extensive, varied and amazing!

Courtesy Old Log Theater
Courtesy Old Log Theater

The Old Log Theater, in its own words, “was originally a summer stock company which opened in 1940 in a log stable.  Thirteen shows were presented in thirteen weeks at that time.  Don Stolz (the current owner) joined the company in 1941 as the resident director and purchased the theater company in 1946.  During the next two decades the Old Log Theater established a loyal following and received widespread critical acclaim for its area premieres of such classic plays as Arsenic and Old Lace, The Glass Menagerie, A Streetcar Named Desire, Time of Your Life, and Look Homeward Angel.”

Actors such as Nick Nolte, Loni Anderson (a St. Paul native), Lois Nettleton and Steve Zahn (another MN native) have performed at the Old Log over the years. Now in its 74th season, the current line-up of shows includes Mahalia starring Sandra Hodges, Miracle on South Division Street (a comedy by Tom Dudzick), The Bremen Town Musicians (a summer children’s show), and The Elves and the Shoemaker.

courtesy Old Log Theater
courtesy Old Log Theater

The Old Log Theater, a rustic building settled on ten acres near scenic Lake Minnetonka, is just minutes from downtown Minneapolis. With a 630-seat theater and a 300-seat restaurant, it can accommodate large and small groups, from weddings to reunions to business meetings.

Need an event for your Girls’ Night Out? How about dinner and a show at the Old Log? Special discounts are available. There are special performances and rates for middle school, high school and college groups. Have a seniors group looking for an entertaining outing? The Old Log can accommodate them as well. There are even backstage tours and overnight packages available.

The Old Log Theater is a unique venue for fundraising – see a performance and then hold a reception and silent auction afterwards. And during the run of Mahalia, choir members (schools, churches, etc.) attending the show can join the cast onstage to perform the final number.

The Old Log Theater, while not the largest of our local theaters, has a rich history. It’s a place where all ages can enjoy the thrill of live theater – laugh, cry, sing along. Check out an upcoming show and see for yourself.

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