Finding Minnesota: Drama In The Suburbs

OSSEO, Minn. (WCCO) — A night at the theater often means driving to the city for shows at the Ordway, Guthrie or Orpheum. But one couple has been keeping the suburbs entertained for more than five years.

Jason and Jessica Lind Peterson operate Yellow Tree Theatre in the northwest metro.

“We love the small town feel of Osseo,” Jessica said. “We love the Main Street, and it just seems like one of those small towns where everybody knows everybody.”

Many people do know Jason and Jessica by now because of all the drama they’ve created in town over the past few years.

Their theater is geared toward the Minnesotans next door.

“I’m from up north,” Jessica said, “so I have a lot of good old Minnesota Lutheran, lutefisk humor in my bones.”

Jessica is a playwright, Jason is a producer, and they’re both actors whose on-stage performances led to one of those off-stage romances.

“We call them showmances,” they said.

Now, as they raise two young sons, they’re running a thriving theater in a surprising place. They built it in a strip mall, in what used to be an abandoned furniture warehouse. It doesn’t look like a warehouse anymore.

The Petersons get people through the doors the old fashioned way, by getting out and making connections.

“So much is word of mouth,” Jason said. “We’ve done surveys, ‘How’d you hear about us?’ And everybody has heard about us from their friend.”

It’s a relationship built around good stories and the experience of enjoying them together.

“There’s just something about watching a story unfold in front of you,” Jessica said, “and seeing actors going through these journeys in front of you.”

The journey for the Petersons has left them right where they want to be.

“We don’t want to get bigger,” Jessica said. “We don’t want to move to a bigger theater. We want to keep that small feel because it’s just really important to us to have that immediate effect on an audience member.”

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