How Tamara Kangas Found Home by Happenstance

by | Apr 2024

Tamara Kangas Erickson

Tamara Kangas Erickson. Photo: Chris Emeott

Chanhassen Dinner Theatres’ co-owner Tamara Kangas Erickson cultivates creativity in Prior Lake.

Tamara Kangas Erickson and her husband, Peter Erickson, didn’t mean to move to Prior Lake. It all started about 16 years ago before they were married and when they were looking for a lake cabin with water access within driving distance of their Minneapolis condo. Erickson’s husband wanted to waterski, and they were looking for somewhere simple—it didn’t even need electricity.

After idly looking at properties all over the Twin Cities, they went to an open house in Prior Lake just to get a feel for the area. “We walked in, and we just fell in love with the house,” Erickson says. As they walked out, they looked at each other and asked, “So, are we moving?”

They did end up moving into that home, which sat on a quiet little bay on Prior Lake. They got married on the property. They brought home two daughters, Chloe Lou and Lexi, who are now 15 and 11.

And that house that had been so perfect for a couple, suddenly felt small. They brought in an architect to consult on an addition, and she walked in and said the words no homeowners ever want to hear: “I think you have a mold problem.”

The house had been water damaged during the Prior Lake flood in 2014, and they discovered mold in the crawl space under their house. “We lost the home to mold, which was really tragic and sad,” Erickson says.

But there was a silver lining: The family built their dream home, designed to meet the specific needs of their family of four, with special touches like a dance studio for Erickson, who is a choreographer, vice president and co-owner of the Chanhassen Dinner Theatres. “We fell in love with this property,” Erickson says. “We didn’t really think it was an option to just sell it and move.”

In reimagining the house, they moved its footprint farther back from the lake and out of the flood plain, and designed it with the lake in mind, wrapping the house on the angle of the property to play up stunning views. They brought some of the quirky charm, like the multilevel main floor, from the original house into the new home.

Erickson, who previously worked for Ralph Lauren Home in New York City, designed the interior of the house, which she describes as a bit eclectic with European and industrial components, as well as traditional elements. “We like mixing some vintage and modern,” Erickson says, noting that she and her husband both love design, so there’s always a conversation when it comes to working on their home. “I definitely bring some of my Ralph Lauren sensibility because I worked for the company for so long.”

Career in Theater

Tamara Kangas Erickson got her start in theater at the age of 10 on the stage of the Chanhassen Dinner Theatres, and today she’s the co-owner and choreographer at the beloved dinner theater.

Erickson choreographs most shows, including Beautiful: The Carole King Musical, which is currently running. She’s also taken the lead on a lot of the recent interior design projects at the theater, and she books and manages the concert series, as well. “I’m involved in a little bit of everything,” she says. “There’s always something different going on. There’s so many components to that space with the music and the plays and the food and the bars. It is really wild how many hats we all kind of wear.”

Chanhassen Dinner Theatres
501 West 78th St., Chanhassen; 952.934.1525
Facebook: Chanhassen Dinner Theatres
Instagram: @chanhassendt
X: @ChanhassenDT


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