Did you know that the Twin Cities has a vibrant and thriving theater and live music scene? It is definitely a point of pride here in the Cities. From intimate, historic music venues to enormous modern playhouses, there is something to satisfy every taste. Thankfully, musical theater is a love Logan and I both share. In fact, we first ‘bonded’ over our shared love for Jesus Christ Superstar during a house party. We were the only two nerds watching a musical while everyone else was doing tequila shots.
So, what better way to celebrate our first wedding anniversary than with a little musical theater! Chanhassen Dinner Theatre has been a local institution for 50 years and is located just southwest of Minneapolis in the suburb of, you guessed it, Chanhassen. We were lucky enough to get tickets to the perpetually sold-out production of Mamma Mia! Performance tickets include the show, your choice of select entrees, dinner rolls, ice water, coffee, or tea. Appetizers, meal upgrades, dessert, and fancy/adult beverages are available for an extra charge.
Immediately we were struck by the sheer enormity of the main theatre, which can seat up to 540 guests! The service was impeccable from start to finish. When our server discovered it was our first time there, he explained how the whole process worked, reminded us what was included in the ticket price, and the timeline in relation to the show. They clearly have the service down to an exact science.
The show was also excellent. The acting, singing, orchestra, and set production exhibited a higher level of professionalism than I expected. (I’m not really sure why I had lower expectations… it was hardly a “let’s do a show in the barn” situation.) They sang, they danced, and they climbed all over the set in alarmingly high heels. The performances were heartfelt, genuine, and befitting of the show itself. I especially appreciated the actors’ physicality and their interaction with the audience. There were even one or two surprisingly naughty moments! We laughed, we cried, it was a blast!
The food was good. Not epic, not life changing, but good. We started with the hot artichoke dip appetizer which was tasty, but VERY mayo-heavy. (Mayo is a Minnesota staple when it comes to dips, hotdish, and even some salads. Thankfully, we both love it.) There was a disproportionately small number of crostini slices that accompanied the dip, despite our generous dunking, but we supplemented with our dinner rolls when they arrived. (I never let artichoke dip go to waste.) For the entree, I ordered the “Famous Chicken Chanhassen” which was recommended by a friend and our server. It consisted of a chicken breast stuffed with wild rice dressing and smothered in hollandaise sauce. Logan had the Cornmeal Crusted Walleye with rice pilaf. Both entrees came with fresh, steamed vegetables. The quality was exactly what we expected out of that type of mass production and felt reminiscent of wedding catering. My chicken was the definite winner. Both the stuffing and hollandaise sauce were very flavorful. Logan’s Walleye filet was tasty but had several bones, and his entire meal was on the smaller side (at least compared to my chicken). It is not my intention to be overly harsh on the food. I don’t think it’s reasonable to expect mind-blowing quality when they are preparing that kind of bulk. In fact, Logan and I were impressed by the general deliciousness in relation to the sheer volume that they were serving. Both meals were tasty, cooked to perfection, and were served hot with a nice presentation. For 540 guests, that is an impressive feat in itself.
Ok, my one petty gripe: Their beer selection was downright sad and unimaginative. Not a single IPA in sight, but instead, a dozen lagers including Michelob Golden Light?! Yikes. Perhaps Colorado turned me into a microbrew snob, but with the exception of Guinness, these options all represented pale, watery, sadness. Minnesota is home to some really wonderful and robust beer. So serve it! (Logan will probably note that I ordered a Blue Moon anyway, so I couldn’t have been that offended.)
After we added an appetizer, upgraded drinks, and an absolutely enormous slice of chocolate cake (not to mention the original price of the tickets), it was a pretty damn expensive date. But, the entire experience was a magical way to spend our anniversary. It was one of those toe-tapping splurge dates that don’t come around too often, but that I would definitely recommend and hope to do again!
Disclaimer: All opinions are entirely our own, and exactly that – opinions. We are not sponsored and have not been compensated in any way for a favorable review.