What do you get for someone who buys things for themselves just weeks prior to Christmas? This was the rhetorical question I posed as I pondered what to buy my mother, a very special person in my life, for Christmas this year. Then I thought about it
shes newly retired, she loves to try new things
surely shed rather have a night out over a new product. So, I purchased tickets to the Chanhassen Dinner Theatres, where the 2 of us enjoyed dinner prior to the entertainment: MID-LIFE: The Crisis Musical. And yes, before you ask, I realize that her gift was a little self-serving, but she didnt seem to mind spending an evening with her favorite (albeit only) daughter!
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Chanhassen Dinner Theatres are located in Chanhassen, Minnesota, which is about half an hour southwest of downtown Minneapolis. The complex is easily located off of Highway 5 west of Interstate 494 and parking in the large lot is free. There are actually 4 theatres here: the main theatre houses almost 600 guests, the Playhouse seats 120, and the Fireside seats 230 guests. In the 2 former, dinner is served right in the theatre, but in the Fireside, it is served in a separate dining room. There is also the Club Theatre which plays smaller short-running shows. All theatres and the Fireside Dining Room are non-smoking. Smoking is permitted in the bar, which is central to all the theatres.
The theatre does not have a dress code, but the few times I have been there, most people are wearing evening attire. Ive seen a few patrons in jeans, but I could count them on one hand. In addition, most of the patrons are adults. The theatre does allow children older than 5, but many of the shows might not be appropriate.
For our Thursday evening dinner and show, the cost was $45 per person. Some of the more famous shows, such as Les Miserables or Grease, run at comparatively higher prices ($60+). On weekend nights, the ticket prices average $6-10 higher than during the week. Most evening shows, including ours, open at 8:15. This means that dinner begins at 6:15 and the theatre recommends that you arrive at least an hour and fifteen minutes prior to the show to ensure enough time to be served and eat.
Chanhassen Dinner Theatres
501 W. 78th Street
Chanhassen, MN 55317
The menu is much more extensive than you might expect to find at a primarily entertainment-based business. Its a 3-course menu-- appetizers, dinner and dessertcomplete with a nice list of fine wines. The catch is that only the dinner portion is included in the ticket cost. Appetizers, dessert and wine are all extra, and these are the portions of the menu with the most variety.
For dinner, you may select from an Apple Chicken Walnut Salad, Chicken Chanhassen (stuffed chicken breast), Fettucini Alfredo, Meatloaf, Walleye, or Top Sirloin. Vegetarian entrees are available upon request, as are a few additional entrees, such as Prime Rib. All dinner entrees include rolls with butter a garden salad, and steamed vegetables. Also included in the ticket price is coffee, tea, milk or water (all other beverages are an additional cost).
Prior to our show, we were seated at a cozy little 2-person table in the Fireside Dining Rooms attic. Its a bit cramped and you are sitting pretty close to everyone around you, so you wouldnt want to have any awkward conversation there. The service is unmatched. We were seated immediately (all tables are held for ticket holders) by a friendly host and then served by a prompt and courteous server. We sat for dinner for about 2 hours, but that was mostly because we were in no rush to sit in the empty theatre and we had a lot to talk about.
Both of us ordered the walleye fillet, which was cooked perfectly and served on a bed of delicious hot Minnesota wild rice pilaf. There were also freshly steamed veggies. We were very impressed with both the taste and portion size of the dinner. The garden salad was good, but not anything special, but the rolls were delicious too--light, fluffy and warm. We each ordered a $6 glass of White Zin and also tried the $5 Tiramisu Italian dessert. The dessert was the only thing with which we were not impressed, but we were stuffed full by that time anyway so it wasnt a problem for us.
We thoroughly enjoyed our 2 hour long show called MID-LIFE: The Crisis Musical. Its a musical comedy that pokes fun at the commonly complained about conditions of middle aged persons. The cast is made up of 3 men and 3 women and takes on the appearance of a live comedy act. It makes fun of forgetfulness, doctor appointments and common health issues (think mammograms, balding, weakening eyesight and the like). There were about 15-20 different musical skits with a 15 minute intermission. We were impressed by the actors and laughed out loud through most of the show. Even though Im not yet close to middle age, this was the perfect show for my mom and she couldnt stop talking about it afterward.
The show was playing in the Fireside Theater, the only one where the dining room is separate. The theater is set up like a movie theater with two tiers. But, unlike some theaters, the seats were comfortable and allowed for plenty of room between you and the next person. Im petite, but a tall person wouldve had enough room to completely straighten their legs out in front of them. The stage is smaller and more intimate, and the view from any place in the room is terrific.
I hope to return to Chanhassen Dinner Theatres in the near future. It was such a relaxing and fun evening and great way to spend a night with friends, family, or your significant other. They offer many different shows year round and the menu is the same for all dining rooms. I would highly recommend it to anyone visiting the Twin Cities.
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