Old Log Theater in Minnesota is sold

  • Article by: GRAYDON ROYCE , Star Tribune
  • Updated: May 3, 2013 - 6:53 PM

Excelsior theater to reopen in June, buyer Greg Frankenfield says.

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Don Stolz, owner of the Old Log Theater in Greenwood.

Photo: Bruce Bisping, Star Tribune

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The Stolz family, which has owned the Old Log Theater for seven decades, has signed a purchase agreement to sell the Lake Minnetonka icon to Twin Cities software developer Greg Frankenfield. The deal is expected to close May 21, and Frankenfield says he intends to reopen the Old Log with a children’s show in mid-June.

“We probably won’t reopen the restaurant until after Labor Day,” Frankenfield said. “At that point, we’ll also open a new show for general audiences.”

Don Stolz began as an actor at the suburban playhouse in 1941 and bought the Old Log in 1946. At 95, he continues to direct and keep tabs on the business. “It’s time to pass the torch on to a new generation of leadership,” he said in a statement.

Frankenfield, co-founder and CEO of Magenic Technologies, said he first talked with the Stolzes about a sale almost four years ago. He and his wife, Marissa, are theater enthusiasts who had made a failed bid for Chanhassen Dinner Theatres in 2009. He has supported local theater companies and invested in a London production of “Lend Me a Tenor” and the Broadway staging of “Peter and the Starcatcher.”

Frankenfield said he will keep Tim Stolz to help run the Old Log, and that Jon Stolz has expressed interest in designing sets.

“I’m excited to have Tim stay because he knows the business so well and he’ll be able to help us avoid mistakes,” Frankenfield said.

Eventually, he intends to hire a general manager and an artistic director. Old Log’s aesthetic has favored farces and bedroom comedies. Frankenfield said he intends to shake things up.

“I’ll be involved in show selection, in collaboration with an artistic director,” he said. “I want to do some small-scale musicals, things like that.”

The only sure thing, he said, is a regional premiere, Nov. 18, of Steven Dietz’s “Rancho Mirage,” starring James Denton, who moved to the Twin Cities area after several years on “Desperate Housewives.”

Frankenfield said he plans to “freshen” the restaurant and give it a brand distinct from simply pre-show dining. Eventually, he wants to tinker with the 600-seat theater.

Frankenfield would not disclose the purchase price.

“This is the fulfillment of a lifelong dream for my wife and me,” said Frankenfield, who will continue to run Magenic. “It’s a new adventure.”

Graydon Royce • 612-673-7299

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