to our community
1991 - Wendy Turner directs her first production; The Wizard of Oz with a script donated by Pete Martin. The show is funded in part by a grant from the Metropolitan Regional Arts Council. Farmington Community Education acts as the fiscal agent.
Wendy is soon joined by Rob Knowles, Karl Wicklund and Mona Miller.
1993 - From 1993 to 2003, the majority of CCT productions are performed at the Farmington High School (now Boeckman Middle School) Little Theater.
The Theater had stadium-style seating with bright orange cushions, a raised stage and a tech counter in the back. The wings were basically non-existent and the backstage was a hallway. Dressing rooms consisted of a men's and women's bathroom, each with 2-3 stalls. CCT continued to perform in the space after it was converted into a conference room hosting its final production in the venue during Fall 2004.
1996 - CCT performs a scene from Baba Yaga on the stage of the new auditorium in the Farmington High School (now Boeckman Middle School). The cast refers to the space as the "Big Theater". The performance was done in conjunction with an art show that featured a variety of acts.
1992 - The organization is given the name Children's Castle Theater (CCT) and a logo (designed by Karl Wicklund), depicts a young girl dancing inside a castle.
The logo is revised over the years, eventually including a young girl and boy inside the castle. The logo is used until 2021 when CCT rebrands to CastleCo Theatre.
1995 - CCT rehearses The Wind In the Willows in the ballroom of the Farmington Exchange Bank Building.
The Hardees down the street is a popular location for actors to stop before and after rehearsal.
Come November 1995, CCT rents a year round rehearsal space in TownsEdge Mall off Hwy 3 in Farmington. CCT operates out of the location for a couple years until a dentist office moves in. Read an article about what CCT was doing in 1995 by clicking HERE.
At this point in time CCT has acquired a large amount of set and costume pieces with (now) no place to store them. Parents of CCT actors step up. Sets move to the basements of; River's Edge Dental Clinic (courtesy of Jim and Kim Harms) and Farmington Clinic (courtesy of Souheil and Mellie Ailabouni) until the early '00. Costumes are stored in the home of Gordy and Janel Schmidt - where they are still stored today.
1997 - CCT opens auditions to adult actors for its production of Third and Oak, 12+ adults participate. The idea sticks and CCT becomes a theatre for all. Click HERE to read newspaper articles about the production.
The production of Third and Oak was produced in partnership with the City of Farmington for its centennial (or 100 year) celebration.
1998 - CCT holds rehearsals for its production of The Wizard of Oz in a vacant building in downtown Farmington. The building later becomes Farmington Tap House and Grill.
2000 - Zack Ailabouni, takes over management of CCT from Wendy Turner while still a student at Farmington High School. He also takes on the roles of lead director, tech director and set designer, managing the organization until 2006.
Prior to emerging as CCT's new lead director, Zack worked as stage manager on several CCT productions.
2004 - CCT Performs in Lakeville for the first time. The show is Peter Pan. Performances are held at Kenwood Trail Middle School.
1999 - CCT holds an in school performance of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory that students from the Farmington elementary schools attend. Parent volunteers hand make over 100 sandwiches for the cast's lunch.
2003 - CCT performs its summer production of The Jungle Book in the most unique place yet; the vacant hospital at Trinity Care Center.
A stage is built in a large empty room and chairs are lined up in rows in front of it. Lights are brought in. Patients from Trinity Care Center venture to the make-shift performance space to enjoy several performances.
2006 - Kayla (Schmidt) Yaeger and Heidi Schmidt take over management and director duties for CCT.
Zack remains on staff, assisting in the transition and acting as lead tech director and set designer through winter 2013. Prior to heading up the organization, Kayla and Heidi worked in assistant director and stage management roles under the direction of Zack.
In July 2006, CCT performs its first production at the Lakeville Area Arts Center (LAAC). The production is Baba Yaga. After completing its run at the LAAC, the show is performed at the Dakota County Fair Free Stage for one performance.
CCT performs all full-length productions at the Lakeville Area Arts Center through June 2016.
FUN FACT: Since its beginning, over 20 actors who performed with CCT as youth have held assistant and lead staff positions with the organization including those listed below. Many others not listed below have assisted on running-crew.
Zack Ailabouni, Lynea Behnke, Mikaela Behnke, Sara Bondus, Roxy Bondus, Nina Current, Brenna Deegan, Rachel (Schmidt) Eubanks, Brielle Franke, Lizzie Gray, Aili Hakala, Josh Hannaman, Tym Sauter, Colleen Stewart, Shane Martin, Ryan McAdam, Heidi Schmidt, Claire Vietti, Ann Wilhoite, Kayla (Schmidt) Yaeger, Rich Yaeger
*Notice an inaccuracy or someone we've missed. Let us know!
2013 - CCT moves to 8 performances for its winter musical, Jack Frost. Part-time roles are offered for the first time. Read more about the show by clicking HERE.
Designed for actors 10 and under but available to all, the part-time roles have a less strenuous rehearsal schedule and only perform in half the shows, allowing actors who are ready to be creative but not ready for late nights and two-a-day-performances an opportunity to participate. Part-time roles remain an appreciated part of CCT today, making productions more accessible for busy families and allowing more actors to participate than ever could before!
FUN FACT: Many actors have performed in CCT productions with minor injuries. In June 2015 an actor in Baba Yaga suffered an injury that required hospital attention - meaning she could not make the afternoon matinee. A call was placed and Kim Lang (who had played the role in 2006) stepped in for the show with just a few hours notice! The injured actor returned in a sling for the evening performance.
2015 - CCT introduces a new brand called Plays for Large Casts.
This brand of CCT allows other theater educators to license scripts owned by CCT. The scripts feature roles for large cast sizes and are priced extremely affordably.
2010 - CCT commits to producing a minimum of two productions each year. Today, CCT produces an average of four shows each year.
Spring 2020 - The COVID-19 pandemic causes the city of Lakeville to impose early social distancing guidelines in March, which close the Lakeville Area Arts Center to performances through July 2020. CCT's production of Matilda the Musical is cancelled five hours prior to curtain for its second weekend of (nearly sold out) performances. CCT vows to bring the show back when social distancing allows. The show is currently scheduled to perform at the Lakeville Area Arts Center in March 2022 with many members of the original cast returning to the same roles.
CCT remains connected to its community with virtual performance opportunities in the summer and a socially distanced, masked workshop in the fall.
2018 - CCT is awarded $35,000 in combined grant funds from the ECMC Foundation and Metropolitan Regional Arts Council to be used during the 2018-2019 season to help education actors and audience members through the arts.
CCT's production of Mary Poppins performs at Lakeville South High School and sets a new ticket record run-of-a-show at 3028 tickets. The record wouldn't have been possible without the change to a larger auditorium.
FUN FACT: In February 2014 - Jesse Schmidt sets the record for the most CCT productions performed in by an individual actor at 20. He currently holds the record at 24 full-length shows and 1 one-act.
2016 - CCT is awarded $21,100 in grant funds from the ECMC foundation in May and hosts its first ever fundraising event titled Chateau Cirque in October of the same year.
The fundraising idea comes from CCT actor/volunteer Amy LaVallie. The event includes a circus style production (produced in part by Gleason's Gymnastics) with an after-party hosted by Lakeville Brewing, with music by The Dang Ol' Tir'ole
2014 - CCT receives official 501(c)(3) non-profit status (back-dated to Aug. 2013). Founding Board Members are; Heidi Schmidt (President), Tammy Nienaber (Secretary) and Jeff Carter (Treasurer).
Disney's Tarzan the Musical becomes the first Disney musical production performed by CCT and sets the ticket sale record for run-of-a-show at 1865 tickets.
....and CCT produces its fist production geared at teen and adult actors and audiences; Little Shop of Horrors.
In October 2016 CCT produces Billy Elliot the Musical in partnership with Ballet Royale MN. The production is the first non-touring production of Billy Elliot in Minnesota.
The show is funded with grant assistance from the Metropolitan Regional Arts Council. It is the first time in 20+ years that CCT performs with a live Pit.
2017 - CCT begins talks with Lakeville Area Community Education about a partnership which begins Fall 2017.
In March 2017 CCTs production of Disney's The Little Mermaid sets four new CCT records including;
Most ticket sales for run-of-a-show (at 2772)
Largest cast size (with 153 actors)
Fall 2020 - CCT announces its name change to CastleCo Theatre, along with a new logo and updated mission statement; Theatre for All.
View the video announcement below and click HERE to read about the decision to change the organization's name.
2021 - CCT is awarded $30,000 in combined grant funds from the Metropolitan Regional Arts Council and MN State Arts Board. The funds allow CCT to continue connecting with its community during the unpredictable time of the pandemic, assisting CCT to provide hands-on arts opportunities to over 200 actors during a period of unprecedented changes and rebuilding.
After 14 months of socially distanced, masked productions, CCT performs Disney's Beauty and the Beast JR at Lakeville South High School Auditorium. The production sets two new records;
Most ticket sales for run-of-a-show (at 4613 tickets)
Most ticket sales for an individual performance (at 677 tickets)