The Old Log Theatre is the oldest professional theater in the state of Minnesota. It is sometimes cited as the oldest continuously operating professional theater in the United States.
OLD LOG THEATRE owners, Greg and Marissa Frankenfield, purchased the theatre and restaurant in May 2013. Greg Frankenfield is cofounder and CEO of Magnenic Technologies, a major Minnesota information technology firm. Both he and his wife, Marissa, are theater enthusiasts and producers who have been on the boards of several local theatre organizations and are invested in productions such as "Lend Me a Tenor" in London's West End and Tony award-winning productions"Peter and the Starcatcher" and "Come From Away"on Broadway. The Frankenfield's, along with their Artistic Director R. Kent Knutson, will continue on the tradition of professional, live theater with more shows each season, a broader array of contemporary, musical and family theatre as part of their season. They have re-imagined the experience at the Old Log Theatre to keep the things that make it special and invest in changes that will make it better. Their goal is to ensure that the Old Log remains a vibrant regional and artistic community asset. In addition to professional theater, a new restaurant Cast & Cru was opened in the fall of 2014. Serving the local community and theater patrons, Cast & Cru is a chef driven restaurant with modern American cuisine.
The Old Log Theatre first opened in 1940 in a building originally used as a shed with a dirt floor. Throughout its existence the theater has focused mostly on screwball comedy, contemporary plays and British farces, though in its early years it operated as a summer stock company. During its years of operation in its original Greenwood, Minnesota location the theater was able to seat 270 people and during its summer season would present a show per week.
During the 1950s the theater's popularity grew and late in that decade it found a need for larger quarters. Herb Bloomberg, who was a builder in Chanhassen, Minnesota, was hired to design and build the new theater on 10acre near Lake Minnetonka in 1965. The new building could seat 655 and was designed to look like a barn with a large lobby featuring a fireplace and a high ceiling. Herb Bloomberg went on to build and operate the Chanhassen Dinner Theatres. The current theater has been reconfigured to seat 560; recent remodeling has included a deeper stage and new sound and lighting systems. The attached restaurant, Cast & Cru, was open in August 2014 after a 2.5 million dollar renovation. Serving both theatre and individual diners.
Prior owner of 73 years, Don Stolz, joined the theater a year after its inception. When he joined the Old Log Theater he was 23 and was a graduate student in theater at Northwestern University. The first show Stolz directed that year was Sidney Howard's Ned McCobb's Daughter, he continued to produce/direct the majority of shows and has overseen 600 productions. Stolz would be instrumental in the growth of television in the Twin Cities and became a radio veteran in the area. In 2006, several of Stolz's sons took over theater operations, though Stolz still remains active in the productions, including a short speech before and after each night's performance.
Theater alumni include actor Nick Nolte who spent three years with the theater, Loni Anderson and long-time Twin Cities news anchor and actor Dave Moore.
An estimated 6 million people have attended productions at the Old Log Theatre. The Old Log Theatre exists solely on income generated by ticket sales, and by its new restaurant, CAST & CRU. Old Log and Cast & Cru underwent a 2.5 million dollar remodel in the summer of 2014. Cast & Cru operates as an independent restaurant [www.castandcru.com] providing American contemporary cuisine to pre-theatre and individual independent diners.