Chaska Family Theater strengthens bonds

Paul and Rebecca Twite of Minnetonka. (Submitted Photo)
Heather and Clayt Beitel (Submitted Photo)


By: Heather Brands

The mission of the Chaska Valley Family Theatre has always been to bring families together to create quality live theater. The current production of “The Music Man” includes nineteen families with four of them comprised of fathers and daughters.

Paul and Rebecca Twite joined the group this year to spend more time together. The Minnetonka duo have been working behind the scenes to digitally capture all the components that go into the making of the production as well as cast promotional shots. “My dad is great and he even lets me take some of the pictures,” said 11-year-old Rebecca, who is also in the cast. “This has been a tremendous way for me to share my passion and to spend quality time with my daughter,” said Paul.

My daughter made me do a show with her more than 15-years-ago and we’ve never left,” said Bill Coldwell, who works at Donaldson Company in Bloomington by day, and by night is preparing for his 29th show with CVFT starring as Marcellus. “Some of the sweetest memories I have are my daughter’s teen years performing with her on stage,” said Coldwell.

Over the years, Coldwell and his entire family have participated in numerous CVFT shows like “The King and I,” “Joseph” in 2000, “Annie,” “The Wizard of Oz” and “Peter Pan.”

“The beauty of theater collaboration is the diverse opportunities available for each member of the family to get involved. Pulling a large show together like The Music Man means finding a place for over 140 volunteers,” said Coldwell, who also serves on the Board of Directors for CVFT.

Bill’s wife, Margaret, added, “CVFT has helped my family develop a lifelong appreciation for theatre.  It was a family activity that we did together and instead of all going in different directions we were able to all go to one place and enjoy what we were doing. I also think theater helps develop self confidence.”

Working on costumes this past weekend with her dad, Hayden Brands, Excelsior Elementary School second-grader loudly exclaimed, “I didn’t know you could sew, Daddy!” Learning new things about each other and growing as a family is what the group of Carver County teachers had in mind when they founded the theater group back in 1995.

Clayt Beitel was talked into auditioning by his daughter Heather, a Minnetonka High School sophomore. Heather has been working nightly with her father on his dance steps. “Dads are usually the ones trying to offer wisdom, but Heather has been helping me so much. Anytime that a father and daughter can spend time together is great. Having her be the expert and teacher and me being the student has been truly special.”

Adult father and daughter team and Minnetonka residents, Elizabeth and Wayne Studenski are sharing the stage together for the first time. “It’s been a great experience especially doing this with my daughter, Elizabeth,” said Wayne. She couldn’t agree more: “I am thrilled to be sharing the stage with my dad. Sharing the musical experience with him has brought us closer together and created many fun moments.”

The Minnetonka families are in the final rehearsal stages for their performances in the award-winning Broadway hitThe Music Man by Meredith Willson. The show will take place over the first two weekends in March on the Chanhassen High School stage. The upbeat musical is sure to entertain all ages featuring songs “(Ya Got) Trouble,” “Seventy-Six Trombones,” and “Goodnight My Someone”.

Performances will be held 7:30 p.m. March 1, 2 , 8 and 9 and 2 p.m. March 2, 3,9 and 10 at Chanhassen High School Theater. Tickets are $15 for adult and $10 for youth 17 and younger. Discount pricing available for groups of 10 or more. For more information and tickets, visit or call 952-250-7206.

Chaska Valley Family Theatre, founded in 1995, provides high quality, affordable live theater featuring local talent with a focus on family involvement. Now in its 18th season, CVFT continues to delight and entertain audiences of all ages.