Thursday, August 29, 2013 at 10:17 a.m.
The cast of Cowgirls.
Photo courtesy Old Log Theater
When Seri Johnson came to the Twin Cities seven years ago, the actor's first job was at the Old Log Theater. "It felt like a nice home," she says.
Even though longtime owner Don Stolz sold the business earlier this year, the theater still has the same warm vibe, Johnson adds.
Johnson plays Jo Carlson in Cowgirls, which opens the 2013-14 season at the Old Log next week. It is the first show under new owners Greg and Marissa Frankenfield, and is directed by artistic partner Kent Knudson.
The musical, which makes its regional debut with the production, is one of five shows to be presented at the "new" Old Log over the next year. The season is part of a parcel of renovations and changes being done at the Excelsior complex, which is the oldest professional theater in the Twin Cities area.
For the actors, getting to head out (sort of) of the Cities for a show has been a thrill.
"The auditions were in a log cabin. That is the coolest thing," says Summer Hagen.
With a plot that puts a trio of classically trained musicians at a country bar, the performers need to be flexible.
"I'm a folk singer who knows how to strum three chords, and they have me doing all these classical pieces," says Hagen, who along with being an in-demand actor in the Twin Cities performs with the band Skunk Hollow.
"Anyone who has any appreciation for any kind of music will learn something about it. I didn't know anything about country music," Johnson says. "On road trips, I will listen to it. There is something about the stories and about how you learn about this person's life from one verse to another."
The Frankenfields are in the midst of a number of renovations at the Old Log. The goal is to retain the original spirit of the theater while updating the facilities. In the theater, this has meant things like new lights and a new soundboard. Elsewhere, there have been repairs to the roof, improved landscaping, and a new chef brought in to freshen up pre-show dining.
After Cowgirls, the season continues with Steve Dietz's Rancho Mirage (Nov. 8-Dec. 7), A Year with Frog and Toad (Nov. 18-Dec. 29), Almost, Maine (Jan. 23-March 29), and Steel Magnolias (April 3-May 18).
"It's a new era of taking what we think we knew and putting a new flavor on it. The Old Log is an institution. That sounds dry, but it is much like Hiram Hall. It has been here, and it has history. Who wouldn't want to be a part of that?" says cast member Andrea Wollenberg.
Sept. 5-Oct. 26
Old Log Theater
5175 Meadville St., Excelsior
$16-$35 (dinner also available for additional charge)
For tickets and more information, call 952.474.5951 or visit online