Thursday, May 7, 2020

Theater Crush Thursday: Chanhassen Dinner Theatres

It's the best day of the week, so you know what that means? Time for #TheaterCrushThursday!
Today we are talking about Chanhassen Dinner Theatres. CDT was founded in 1968 and has posted some staggering statistics since then – it is the largest professional dinner theater complex in the nation, the largest privately-owned restaurant in Minnesota, and has served over 12.5 million guests. If you’re a production design junkie, this is a great place to witness some beautiful costumes and sets with local pride (Beauty and the Best and Holiday Inn were particular favorites); all productions are conceived and designed by full-time artistic teams and made on-site 100% in Minnesota. And if musical theater isn’t really your thing, no problem – the vast complex has plenty of other entertainment options including a comedy club, concert series, wedding and events business and Brindisi’s Pub if you just want to swing through for a cold one.
CDT has hosted hundreds of productions over the years. Their past performance list, lovingly reproduced in every program, reads like a who’s who of the musical world. Recent productions have included Holiday Inn, Mamma Mia, Newsies, Sister Act, Grease. One of my all time favorites was Hairspray. They had just opened a production of The Music Man before the COVID-19 crisis closed their doors, and we hope they’re able to hit the ground running when things are up and running again as well as stage their next scheduled show of Cinderella. If you want to learn more (and you should!) check out their About Page below.
Personally, CDT has a special place in my heart because I grew up in a small town in Northern Minnesota, and CDT was the first place I experienced theater beyond the scope of small community theater. I will never forget being a little kid sitting in that dark theater, while the limpid notes of the pit orchestra and foggy set opened upon Brigadoon.
CDT was the only professional theater I experienced for most of my life, through annual school trips, and it was the place that opened my mind to the wonder that theater creates. It is the venue where engaging with theater became an accessible idea to me; I recognized many of the faces I continued to see on stage and was recognized and welcomed when I came through the doors.
I've branched far and wide from CDT in my understanding of #tctheater since my days as a wide eyed, wonder-filled kid, but this remains the source of my love for theater. It's now a familiar place where I can order my favorite entree (Chicken Chanhassen - don't sleep on it) and settle in for a few nostalgic hours. I love my other theaters in the Twin Cities for many reasons, but this is one that brings me back every time.