The powerful synergy between an Irish Celebration on the Titanic, a hat and the vibrant Bridgette Delia Mc Dermott

Miss McDermott admiring the statute at the foot the Titanics' Grand Staircase. S

Miss McDermott admiring the statute at the foot the Titanics’ Grand Staircase.

The “Irish Celebration on the Titanic” is the Bransons Titanic Museum Attraction’s (Titanic) annual celebration and remembrance of Ireland’s involvement with the “RMS Titanic” lasting the entire month of March. The “hat” and “Bridgette Delia McDermott,” both their story and the way it is presented, not only tells the story of one of the luckiest people aboard the ship that night, but illustrates just how special the Irish Celebration on the Titanic is.

From the ships conception to the tragic end of her first and last voyage on the night of April 14 and into the early morning hours of April 15 of 1912 when she hit an iceberg and sunk into the icy depths of the North Atlantic, “Ireland” and the “Irish” have been an integral part of the Titanic’s history. She was built in Belfast, Northern, Ireland in about three years, by Harland and Wolff, the shipbuilders for White Star Line, through the efforts of over 3,000 workers, most of them Irish.

When she left her last port of call prior to starting her fateful voyage across the North Atlantic it was from Queenstown, on the south coast of County Cork, Ireland. On board were 184 Irish passengers and crew of which 14 were from the little Irish parish of Addergoole, near Ballina in County Mayo and one of those was Third Class Passenger, Bridgette Delia McDermott, who had a brand new hat with her that her mother had purchased for her just before she left.

Every day, the “crew” of the Titanic Museum Attraction and the museum itself remember and tell the stories of those who were on the ship, let today’s passengers experience a taste of the adventure and excitement of that voyage and provide their “passengers” one of the most unique and memorable entertainment experiences available in Branson. During March, the Titanic’s Irish Celebration enhances that experience with its crew donning period costumes and “becoming” one of the passengers during the celebration.

Folks, this is a Legends in Concert  quality type of experience. When you met and talk with them it seems so real and its more than just the costumes; they really “know who they are,” I had the pleasure of meeting and talking with “Miss Bridgette Delia Mc Dermott, a 28 year old passenger.

She explained, that like a lot of people in Ireland at the time, it was her dream to come to America even though, in that time and place, it meant leaving your home and family and probably never seeing them again. She boarded the ship at Queenstown with 13 other people from the small parish of Addergoole. Prior to boarding the ship she had gone shopping with her mother who had brought her a new hat because her mother had said, “All ladies in America wear hats and gloves.”

She was amazed at the accommodations aboard the ship. The Titanic’s “Third “Class” accommodations” were the equivalent of any other ships “Second Class” accommodations with running water. “Imagine having running water,” she said. “We had no running water and had to go outside to a well whenever we needed water.”

When asked about what happened when the ship hit the iceberg she said she came up on deck with others who had been told there was nothing to worry about. When they determined that there was a problem, she was one of the first on a lifeboat because she was already on deck.

As soon as she got in the boat she noticed that she did not have the hat her mother had brought her and jumped out of the lifeboat, went to her cabin and got the hat. When she returned, the boat was long gone and one of the last boats was already being lowered. She said that she went down a “rope ladder” and dropped 15 feet into the boat.

“Miss McDermott pointed out that of the 14 people from Addergoole, only she and two other women survived. As part of this year’s Irish Celebration the Titanic is premiering a video telling the Addergoole story including how it has preserved the memories of the “14” for over 100 years.

A voyage aboard the Titanic Museum Attraction is always special, but to me, there’s just something a little extra special as the ship’s Irish heritage is celebrated. For additional information or tickets for the Titanic Museum Attraction please contact the Branson Tourism Center by calling 1-800-785-1550 or visiting its website, www.BransonTourismCenter.com.

 

30 amazing kid friendly activities that your kids will absolutely love doing while vacationing in Branson

Kids and adults alike will never forget their first "DUCK"   "splashdown!"

This is just the beginning; Kids and adults alike will never forget their first big “DUCK Splashdown!”

There’s so much to see and do in Branson that it is sometimes hard to focus in on specific things that you might want to see and do. That’s true whether you’re an adult or child. The headline refers to “your kids,” and the following list is written for them, with “age appropriate” help from an adult where needed with younger children, to give them an overview of the exciting, fun and entertaining things they can enjoy while in Branson:

It is in a “check list” form so that items of interest can be checked off for further checking if they are of interest. The extensive linking will take you to additional information on the item such as scheduling, pricing and, in many cases, pictures and videos. The information is provided by the Branson Tourism Center, one of Branson’s largest and most respected vacation planning services.

Whether a “kid,” or an adult planning a trip to Branson with kids, we hope this list will help you to plan to have a great Branson experience whether it’s on one of the 40 rides at Silver Dollar City; meeting “Polar, the Titanic Bear or “Madison,” the tiger; feeding the ducks; exploring a cave or, “well, you get the idea:”

  1. ___ Ride one of more of Silver Dollar City’s over 40 rides with rides for every member of the family.
  2. ___ Have an up close and personal meeting with the giant  dinosaur, “T Rex,” at the Branson Dinosaur Museum.”
  3. ___ See the horses in their stalls at Dixie Stampede.
  4. ___ Sit in a lifeboat at the Titanic Museum Attraction.
  5. ___ Feed the ducks at Scotty’s Trout Dock and Marina.
  6. ___ Experience the “big splashdown” while riding on “Ride The Ducks.”
  7. ___ Go deep into Marvel Cave and ride the “tram” a half a mile from the bottom of the cave to back to the top.
  8. ___ Enjoy kids just like you performing in Branson shows such as “Presleys’,” “Duttons,” “Clay Cooper,” “Hughes Brothers” and others.
  9. ___ Hear the “sounds of an orchestra” coming from just the voices of SIX
  10. ___ Meet a giant “Transformer” standing outside of Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Odditorium
  11. ___ Watch a dog peddle a bicycle and cats jump through hoops at Amazing Pets
  12. ___ Swim at Table Rock Lake’s “Moon Shine Beach.”
  13. ___ See the Acrobats of China perform amazing acrobatic feats.
  14. ___ Ride the free downtown Trolley
  15. ___ Get some “old time” candy at “Dick’s 5 & 10″
  16. ___ Take a train ride on the Branson Scenic Railway.
  17. ___ Meet “Madison” a white tiger, who is one of the many tigers and other “big cats” at the National Tiger Sanctuary.
  18. ___ Eat an Andy’s Custard.
  19. ___ Watch a “grist mill” grind grain at the College of the Ozarks’ “Edward’s Grist Mill.”
  20. ___ Enjoy seeing thousands of toys in the World’s Largest Toy Museum
  21. ___ Laugh with Herkimer, Cecil and Cecil Jr. at Presleys’ Country Music Jubilee.
  22. ___ Play mini golf on one of Branson’s many mini golf courses like Shoot For The Stars Mini Golf
  23. ___ See “Savanah,” a giant Loggerhead Sea Turtle at Branson’s Wild World who has trouble floating because she got hit by a boat.
  24. ___ Go ” nose to nose” with giant Rainbow and Brown Trout, at the aquarium in the “Shepherd of the Hills Hatchery.”
  25. ___ Talk with Titanic Museum Attraction “Polar, the Titanic Bear,” who is based on a toy bear owned by 1 of the 133 children that sailed on the Titanic.
  26. ___ Walk amid 1000s of live butterflies in the Butterfly Palace and Rainforest Adventure.
  27. ___ Ride on one of 4 world class coaster, like the iconic “Wildfire” at Silver Dollar City.
  28. ___ See a giant “fish” swim out over your head while watching Jonah.
  29. ___ Enjoy the fun and adventure of the new $7 million “Fireman’s Landing” at Silver Dollar City with its ten new rides and activities for the whole family.
  30. ___ Splash, play, slide and “plummet” in 2 million gallons of watery fun at White Water

In terms of all there is for kids to see and do in Branson this list is like the “tip of an iceberg”. For additional information on anything in this article or for information on “anything Branson,” please feel free to call 1-800-785-1550 for the help of one of Branson Tourism Center’s Branson based Travel Planners who will be delighted assist you in any way they can.

How Devil’s Den Became A Marble Marvel On Its Way To Becoming Branson’s Silver Dollar City

Looking back toward the top of the Marvel Cave.

Looking back toward the top of the Marvel Cave while descending into the cave.*

The tourist destination of Branson, Missouri has been evolving for over 115 years into the wonderful place that enables millions to be entertained, have fun and create special family memories that will last a lifetime. Today Branson visitors have a marvelous choice of attractions, live shows and activities, all surrounded by pristine lakes and the beauty of the Ozark Mountains, that is unrivaled anywhere. Yet, it wasn’t always that way and started its evolution from the place the Osage Indians called “Devil’s Den.”

Osage legend has it that the name came about when a young bear hunter and a bear fought on the edge of a great hole and fell into it one evening. When they came back the next day all they saw was blackness and a hole that seemed to have no bottom, hence legend says, the name “Devil’s Den.” Legend also speaks of early Spanish explorers exploring the cave, but the first recorded record of the caves exploration was in 1869 as the result of an expedition lead by Henry T. Blow, of St. Louis, who was involved with lead mining.

At that time, as it had been since the days of the Osage and before, the cave’s access was through a big sink hole through which those exploring the cave were lowered. Although they did not find lead, they thought they had seen “marble” in the ceiling of the cave and named it “Marble Cave.” A “bat guano” mining operation developed along with the very small town of “Marmaros” near the mouth of the cave, but the mining operation had ceased and the town had burned down when William Lynch, along with his two young daughters, Genevieve and Miriam, purchased it and began operating it as an Ozark tourist attraction in 1894.

Lynch, ran the cave with his daughters until his death in 1927. The name of the cave was changed to “Marvel Cave” shortly after his death and his two daughters operated the attraction until leasing it to the “Herschend family,” Hugo, Mary and their two teenage sons, Jack and Peter, in the mid 1950’s. The Herschend family has operated it continually since.

“After signing a 99 year lease, the Herschends made many improvements to the cave, but wanted something for people to do up on the surface while they were waiting to tour the cave. Hugo’s vision was to have Ozark craftsmen demonstrating their crafts. That vision, along with some insight about Marmaros were the seeds which were planted and nourished by the Herschend family and blossomed into an 1880s themed town named “Silver Dollar City,” located at the entrance to the cave, which opened May 1, 1960.” The rest is history.

Tours of Marvel Cave, a National Natural Landmark and Branson’s oldest continuously operated attraction, are still conducted daily and are actually included in the price of admission to Silver Dollar City. The 60 minute walking tours depart every half hour and are guided by trained cave guides who take visitors over 500 feet below the surface into the “wet limestone cave” via a combination of stairs, trail and ramps. Once at the bottom, cave visitors get a half mile ride back to the surface via a unique “cable train” installed in 1957.

For additional information on Silver Dollar City, Marvel Cave, or other Branson shows and attractions or Branson lodging please feel free to contact the Branson Tourism Center by either calling their toll free number 1-800-785-1550 or through their website www.BransonTourismCenter.com.

 

* Pictures courtesy of Silver Dollar City

Six reasons making Branson absolutely the place for your family’s amazing Spring Break

The green of spring and Table Rock Lake provide a magnificent sight  for riders on Silver Dollar City's "WidFire" coaster.

The fresh green of an Ozarks spring and Table Rock Lake provide a magnificent sight for riders on Silver Dollar City’s “WidFire” coaster.

“With six inches of snow on the ground and temperatures ranging from a low in the teens to a high in the lower 30s, spring seems kind of distant,” said Annette Wood, the Director of Sales and Marketing for the Branson Tourism Center. “Yet, in reality, it and “spring breaks” are just around the corner,” she added.

Wood points out that Branson is a great place for families to shake the “winter blues” and share an amazing and memorable “spring break” together and from many, she suggests the following six reasons she believes that is so:

1.  Silver Dollar City and its new $8 million Fireman’s Landing – Silver Dollar City, the international award winning 1880s styled theme park, is Branson’s oldest and most popular paid attraction. In addition to its shows and practicing crafters Silver Dollar City offers over 40 exciting rides from world class coasters such as its new Outlaw Run® wood coaster to the thrills of its iconic WildFire® coaster to milder rides the family can share together such as the rides in the “Grand Exposition.” New this year is the $8 million “Fireman’s Landing” with ten new rides and attractions featuring “FireFall,” an exciting 8 story fire tower free fall and rides and attractions for the smaller members of the family.

2. There are “spring breaks” and there is a “Branson spring break” – When some think of “spring break,” the thing that they envision is the raucous, alcohol filled, thinly clad body situations normally shown on TV in association with college students celebrating spring breaks at other destinations. Interestingly, although a lot of college students do celebrate spring break in Branson, it is for the same reason that families celebrate spring break in Branson, to enjoy the wholesome family atmosphere that permeates Branson’ shows, attractions and activities and defines what Branson is.

3. The Natural Beauty of Spring in the Ozarks – Everywhere one turns in Branson they are surrounded by the unique magnificent beauty of the Ozark Mountains that surround it as they awaken to the freshness of a new year amid a beautiful show produced by “Mother Nature.”

4. Branson’s Spectacular Live Shows – The majority of Branson’s shows will be open with their new 2015 shows providing the quality and breadth of live entertainment for which Branson is noted. From the Branson’s first show on its famed “Branson Strip,” Presleys’ Country Jubilee to the Grand Jubilee; it starring the Hughes Brothers; SIX, Acrobats of China, The Haygoods and dozens more, Branson is unrivaled in the variety of live entertainment it offers with something for everyone and, perhaps, more importantly, something that the whole family can enjoy together.

5. Attractions and Activities Galore – From the excitement of a “voyage aboard” the Titanic Museum Attraction, to the magnificence of the great cats at the National Tiger Sanctuary; Ripley’s Believe It or Not, Dicks 5 & 10; the Shepherd of the Hills Trout Hatchery, College of the “Ozarks Ralph Foster Museum,” called the Smithsonian of the Ozarks; Ride the Ducks, great golf and many more, Branson has a remarkable choice of attractions and activities. When that is combined with great shopping and everything else Branson has to offer it’s hard to imagine a “spring break” destination that has more to offer than Branson.

6. Value – Compared to other destinations Branson is a great value in terms of the prices for lodging, shows, attractions and other activities. Recently Trivago.com announced Branson as the number two city among “the 50 Best Value Cities for the coming year.” Wood points that it becomes even a better value when lodging is “bundled,” packaged, with shows and attractions and offers the assistance of the Branson Tourism Center in that regard by calling 1-800-785-1550 or through its website, www.BransonTourismCenter.com

In addition, Branson offers an intangible that very few, if any travel destination can offer. It has been Branson’s privilege to entertain tourists for over a century. Spring break or any other time of the year, it is a community dedicated to serving its visitors with an attitude and spirit of appreciation, service and “what can we do to make sure you have a great Branson experience.” Why not shake the winter blues and celebrate spring break with our family in Branson this year?

 

Ellen Petersen’s amazing faith deeply contributes to her American Idol experience

Member of the Petersen's Family Bluegrass Band and top 48 contestant on American Idol ,Ellen Petersen .

Ellen Petersen, member of the Petersen’s Family Bluegrass Band and a top 48 contestant on American Idol.

When the top 48 American Idol performers take the stage for “Showcase Week” at the Los Angeles “House Of Blues” to perform before their first “live audience” Ellen Petersen, who performs in Branson with her family in the Petersen Family Bluegrass Band, will be among them. Although the audience was “live”, the show was taped and will lead into the selection of the final 24 that America will vote on.

I had a Valentine’s Day that was special in that I got to take my “Valentine” to see the Petersen show; meet the Petersen family, the “kids,” Ellen, Katie, Matthew and Julianne, and their mom and dad Karen and Jon and interview Ellen. I will be writing about the show in a week or so, but to see this amazing family perform and interact with each other and their audience was a joy.

After the show I had a chance to interview Ellen (EP) on behalf of the Branson Tourism Center (BTC):

BTC: How long have you been singing?
EP: I have been singing “all of my life.” When we were young we used to learn Christmas carols, with all the parts and harmonies, and go around singing in nursing homes and churches.

BTC: What’s your favorite part of this show [Petersen Family Bluegrass Band]?
EP: Interacting with my family members; it’s really fun to play music with the people that you love. We have such a good time interacting on stage, it’s different every show and you never know what’s going to happen.

BTC: Have you always had a pink banjo?
EP: No, I got my pink banjo for my 16th birthday instead of a car.

BTC: Is that what you wanted?
EP: It’s what I got and I love it!

BTC: What led you to try out for American Idol?
EP: The “Bus Tour” was coming through Branson, people had suggested that I try out for it and a friend suggested that I not only try out for it, but that I yodel and play the banjo. I thought it was fun idea because you don’t see many girls trying out for American Idol yodeling and playing a banjo, so I learned “I Want To Be A Cowboy’s Sweetheart” and used it for my auditions in Branson and Kansas City.

BTC: How did that work?
EP: I auditioned in Branson and got a “Golden Ticket” to the Kansas City auditions which is what led to the opportunity that got me in front of the judges and on live national TV.

BTC: So, you are in front of the judges, sing “I Want To Be A Cowboy’s Sweetheart” and get a “Golden Pass to Hollywood” and, like thousands of contestants before you, head for the exit. Then something happened. Could you give us some insight on that?
EP: I had just received my “Golden Pass,” was excited and was pushing open the door to leave when Keith Urban asked me if I could play the “Beverly Hillbillies Theme Song.” Although I had played the song once, about four years ago, as part of our “Character Camp” at the “College of the Ozarks, I just prayed, “God, please help me remember these chords,” said “Yes” and marched my little-self back out there. They must have sensed my nervousness because Harry [Connick Jr.] said that he’d sing it with me, Keith joined him and it was a really funny moment.

BTC: Was Hollywood Week as much pressure as it seems like when you are watching it on TV?

EP: The whole premise of Hollywood Week is to put the performers under a lot of pressure and they have to cut over 200 performers down to 48. I think I slept six hours total that whole week.

BTC: What’s your most memorable part about Hollywood Week?
EP: My brother Matthew and sister Katie came out to Hollywood with me. They stayed up with me and supported and helped me throughout the whole week. Just having them there was really special and meant the world to me. In a family like ours we stick together and support each other. That’s what they did for me and it was awesome. That’s what got me through it.

BTC: What advice would you give someone who is thinking about trying out for American Idol?
EP: Go for it. Regardless of what the outcome is of my American Idol journey I have learned so much, not only in terms of my preparation, but the advice you get along the way from the judges and the shows staff.

BTC: What is one of the major ways it has impacted your life?

EP: God has used it to open my eyes to music and how it can be used to reach people emotionally and on a level that few other things can. Regardless of how American Idol turns out, just being able to play with my family and being able to have a positive impact on people’s lives is amazing.

BTC: Putting American Idol aside for a moment, you are a very busy young lady. Could you tell us a little bit about that?

EP: I graduated from the “College of the Ozarks” in May of 2014 with a major in chemistry; work in Oklahoma City for the University of Oklahoma’s Health Sciences Center as a lab technician in a pathology lab with a professor researching breast cancer and drive back to Branson on Friday night of each week, practice with the band on Saturday morning, do the show Saturday night, go to church with my family on Sunday and then drive back to Oklahoma City.

BTC: Has Branson been supportive of your American Idol journey?
EP: I have just been blown away by Branson and how supportive everyone has been. It’s an awesome humbling experience.

It was a pleasure to interview this young lady, who is enjoying the moment while fully realizing who is in control of her journey and has blessed her with her amazing talent, personality, looks and family. During the Petersen’s show, Ellen’s mom is featured in various numbers with her mandolin. The crowd urges her on by saying, “Get it momma.” I would paraphrase that and encourage Ellen, as she continues her American Idol journey with the admonition, “Get it girl! Godspeed.”

How many of these 12 plus events on this exclusive March 2015 Buzzing in Branson List do you know about?

The "Bell Tower: being lifted atop Station #3" at "Fireman's Landing in January of this year.

The “Bell Tower: being lifted atop “Station #3″ at “Fireman’s Landing in January of this year.

“Buzzin in Branson” is a concise and easy to read list of the major events taking place in Branson, Missouri during the month being “Buzzed,” which is March of 2015 for this issue. Each issue of “Buzzin in Branson” contains the “Branson Buzz of the Month” and a list the major special events, shows and activities for that month,

Branson “Buzz of the Month for March 2015

The opening of “Fireman’s Landing.” When Silver Dollar City opens its 2015 season on March 14 it will premiere of its $8 million dollar Fireman’s Landing, with its ten new family rides featuring “Fire Fall,” an 8-story fire tower free-fall drop ride.

The following list of special events, shows and activities in March is sorted by event date and contains pertinent and timely comments and contact information, through either a link or phone number, that can be used to obtain additional information:

Feb 27 – Mar 1: Edgewater USAG Woman’s Artistic Gymnastics Classic
Mar 1 – Mar 31: Annual Irish Celebration Month at Titanic Museum Attraction
Mar 1Puttin On The Ritz premiers in Branson
Mar 1 – Following shows start first full month of 2015 season: Dublin’s Irish Tenors and the         Celtic Ladies, Haygoods, Legends in Concert, New Jersey Nights and SIX.
Mar 4Acrobats of China start 2015 season in new venue, the Yakov Smirnoff Theatre
Mar 7 – Presleys Country Jubilee, Branson’s 1st show on the Branson Strip opens its 2015 Season.
Mar 11 – Mar 17: NAIA Division II Men’s Basketball National Championship
Mar 13 – Jonah starts final Branson season.
Mar 13 – Billy Dean Live starts 2015 season.
Mar 13 – Clay Cooper’s Country Express opens its 2015 Season
Mar 14 – Silver DollarCity starts its 2015 season and premiers Fireman’s Landing
Mar 14 – Spirit of the Dance The Encore Tour premiers in Branson.
Mar 17 – St Patrick’s Day
Mar 19 – Branson Praisefest 2015
Mar 20 – Mar 22: Marriage Getaway Weekend
Mar 24 – Crossing Over With John Edward
Mar 27 – Mar 29: 9th Branson Elvis Festival and Branson Ultimate Elvis Tribute Contest
Mar 28 – Junior Auxiliary of Taney County 2015 Trivia Challenge
Mar 28 – Mar 29: Young Christians Weekend at Silver Dollar City

“Buzzin in Branson” is produced monthly by the Branson Tourism Center as a service to its customers and others interested in what’s going on in Branson. If you have any further questions about these events or want information or tickets for any of Branson’s shows and attractions or lodging please contact the Branson Tourism Center, one of Branson’s largest and most respected vacation planning services by calling 1-800-785-1550 or through its website www.BransonTourismCenter.com .

Branson Tourism Center welcomes new Branson Chamber and CVB CEO

Jeff Seifried, the new President/CEO of the  Branson/Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce and CVB.

Jeff Seifried, the new President/CEO of the Branson/Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce and CVB.

“We extend a warm Branson welcome to Jeff Seifried, who has just recently been announced as the new President/CEO Branson/Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce and CVB,” said Tammy Johnson, the General Manager for the Branson Tourism Center, one of Branson’s largest and most respected vacation planning services. “Seifried was named the new President/Chief Executive Officer of the Branson/Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce and Convention & Visitors Bureau, according to Randy Brashers, Chairman of the Board of Directors. Seifried is leaving his position as the Manager of Regional Development for the Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce [which he has held since July of 2007] and will begin the Branson job on March 2, 2015.

“Mr. Seifried’s professional career has largely been spent in the area of Economic Development. In July, 2007  he joined the Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce and had direct oversight of initiating business recruitment and marketing strategies for the Springfield region.

“Seifried is a graduate of Drury University and holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Business Administration, with a minor in Global Studies and is also a graduate of the University of Oklahoma Economic Development Institute.”

At the time of his selection Seifried was serving on the city council of Springfield, Mo and was the “Mayor Pro Tem.” Upon resigning from the council it was reported that one of his fellow council members, Councilwoman Cindy Rushefsky, described Seifried as being thoughtful, intelligent and independent and willing to stick his neck out to come up “with creative solutions.”

Your exclusive behind the scenes look at the production of a “Legendary” Branson show

Dancers, band and Jennica McCleary, center with mike, "loading in" one of the numbers for her Bette Midler set sans costuming, and while lighting adjustments are being made in the background.

Dancers, band and Jennica McCleary, center with mike, “loading in” one of the numbers for her Bette Midler set sans costuming, spotlights and while lighting adjustments are being made in the background.

Branson’s Legends in Concert will be starting their 2015 season on February 6 with an all-star cast of talented look alike tribute performers including Todd Bradshaw as “Kenny Chesney,” Dave Lawrence as “Lionel Ritchie,” Jennica McCleary as “Bette Midler” Lori Russo as “Ann-Margret” and Ted Torres as “Elvis.” In preparing this exclusive story for the Branson Tourism Center, I had the opportunity to get a behind the scenes look at how the talent of all these great artists is melded together, with dancers, a live band, lighting, videos, special effects, sound, costuming and choreography, into the spectacular entertainment spectacle that is known worldwide as the “Legends in Concert.

In talking with Robb Horton, the shows Production Manager, he pointed out that the artistry involved in producing the show extends from the individual tribute artists to the dancers, musicians and the lighting and sound personnel. He pointed out that although each tribute performer has their own routine that has been developed over years of practice, study and devotion to their craft, the success of Legends in Concert is to showcase that talent as part of an overall production combining everyone’s collective artistic talents to present a unique spectacular entertainment experience not available anywhere else.

In terms of doing that, he broke the shows production down into six major areas beside the tribute artists themselves, dancers, choreography, costuming, band, lighting and sound. I was afforded the opportunity not only to see people working in most of these areas, but to talk with many of them as they were doing it.

Each show is broken into a “set” for each tribute artist which becomes a mini-show in itself with its own choreography, dancing, costuming, live music, lighting and sound. The shows dancers Stephanie Young, Dance Captain and dancers Cindy Dardas, Larry Miller, Aaron LeMoine, Desta Pritchett and Kenya Wilhite, with Pritchett and Wilhite also performing as back up vocalists, are featured in a variety on numbers throughout the show.

Dance Captain Stephanie Young, has been performing with Legends in Concert for 12 years. She points out that the choreography for the show comes in from the Las Vegas office of Legends in Concert on a DVD along with the costuming. She learns the choreography, teaches it to all the dancers, “sets the stage” and works it around each of the different tribute artists.

Dancers refining a routine that is featured in the set.

Dancers refining a routine that is featured in the set.

I had the opportunity to watch the beginning of the process as they worked the dancing into the set of Jennica McCleary as “Bette Midler” who was working with them at their first rehearsal together. It is a multistep process beginning with the tribute artist performing their vocals which are observed by Young and the dancers.

Then gradually, sometimes it seemed on a move by move basis, the choreography, dancing and backup vocals are worked into the performance. When one number in the set is done they go to the next and when they get the whole set down they practice it time and time again.

It should be pointed out that this is all being done simultaneously in conjunction with the shows live band composed of Kevin Allen, Band Leader and Lead Guitar; Eddie Howard, Drums, Lyman Clark, Keyboards and Brian Zerbe, Bass Guitar. Sound and lighting adjustments are also being made both on and off stage.

Heidi Jarret, facing out with paper in hand, working with the cast during the rehearsal.

Heidi Jarret, facing out with paper in hand, working with the cast during the rehearsal.

Although there is adequate lighting during the rehearsal, the lighting seen throughout the show was absent the vast majority of the time. It was almost surreal seeing the performers perform with no spot lights etc. The amazing thing to me was the way the dancers, band and choreography started to come together even in the few hours that I was there. What a pleasure to watch these consummate professionals work together and to see a small part of what will be the final result.

Young pointed out that they do what they are doing now, “load the show,” get it ready for their audiences, four times a year now, May, September and in November for their Christmas show. In May, September and November she is the one who, in addition to her dancing duties oversees “the loading” of the show. The first show of the year is “loaded by” a representative of corporate.

When asked what the toughest part for her was, in terms of getting each new show ready, she said, “From May 1st to the end of September we do two shows a day with Wednesdays off. When we are loading in the new shows the rehearsals take place between and after the shows making for very full days. When asked what she wanted people to know about the dancers in the show she said, “We work our tails off, but we do it because we love it and every single person up there has a passion for it and giving our audiences a great performance.”

Different props and elements are slowly added as the "set" is "loaded" into the show.

Different props and elements are slowly added as the “set” is “loaded” into the show.

Although Legends in Concert has state of the art lighting and sound systems it is artistry of how the output of those systems is interwoven into the show that adds immeasurably to the experience the audience receives. Timothy Young, the shows Lighting and Video Director points out that unlike the show’s choreography where corporate furnishes a DVD that can be followed, he uses the equipment to custom design the lighting for each performer and number in each show. He said, “I kind of go with what I feel the music is saying and what I feel it should look like.” Most of the original programming that he does is done after everyone has gone home and into the wee hours of the morning as he listen to the music and programs the lighting and video accordingly.

Russell Bullock, the shows Technical and Sound Director points out that, like the lighting and video, the sound has to be tuned and levels adjusted for each performer and number that they sing during the show. Even as the rehearsal was going on he was on stage checking levels and making adjustments.

Heidi Jarrett, a choreographer and consultant for On Stage Entertainment, the producers of Legends in Concert, who came in from Los Angeles, was doing the “Load In” for the first shows of the year. She said, that Legends in Concert is unique in that, corporate wide, its shows are changed every three months and that corporate sends someone out to “load” the first shows of the season. She has been “loading” the first performances of Legends in Concert in Branson for about 12 years

She said that from a show production stand point Branson’s Legends in Concert is wonderful to work with. They have already received the choreography, Stephanie has it “set” and ready to go and all she has to do is help put the finishing touches on it to allow it “to develop into the beautiful flower that it is.” It was a joy to watch the way she interacted with everyone on the set to implement the “finishing touches” and to see the first budding of “the beautiful flower” that Branson audiences will experience when Legends of Concert opens its 2015 season on the evening of February 6.

For additional information or tickets for the Legends in Concert show or for information or tickets for any of Branson’s shows and attractions or for lodging arrangements please contact the Branson Tourism Center, one of Branson’s largest and most respected vacation planning services by calling 1-800-785-1550 or through its website, www.BransonTourismCenter.com.

 

Insider tips about you having a great Branson golfing experience

The beautiful Top of the Rock Par 3 Course with the sun setting over Table Rock Lake.

The beautiful Top of the Rock Par 3 Course with the sun setting over Table Rock Lake.

Whether its lakes, live entertainment, attractions or shopping, Branson, Missouri is known for both the quality and variety of all it offers. On any given day during the season Branson visitors have a choice of almost 100 live shows of every kind and, in similar fashion, on almost any day of the year that weather permits, they have many choices of places to tee off for a great round of golf. Here’s five tips that we hope will help lead you to a great Branson golfing experience:

  1. Golf is available year round – Weather permitting, golf is available on the vast majority of Branson’s golf courses year around. On many days, even in January and February, Branson’s comparatively mild winters permit play. That has especially been the case this winter. Of course starting March and running through early November, the weather the vast majority of days is ideal for golfing.
  1. Branson Has two par 3 courses – With the increasing popularity of par three golf it should be noted that Branson offers two par three courses. The “Don Gardner Par 3 Course” is a nine hole course with holes ranging from 82 to 182 yards in length that is operated by the city of Branson and is open year round. The “Top of the Rock Par 3 Course” is a nine hole championship course with holes ranging from 117 to 202 yards in length, depending on which set of tees are used, operated by Bass Pro Shops at its Big Cedar Resort. It became the first par 3 course ever used in an official tournament when 36 holes of the 54 hole “PGA Champions Tour Bass Pro Shops Legends of Golf at Big Cedar Lodge Tournament” was played on it last year. PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem, said, “If there was ever a Par-3 course worthy of PGA Tour tournament play, Top of the Rock is it.”
  1. Branson has six 18 hole golf courses – There are six conveniently located 18 hole golf courses These include “Holiday Hills,” “LedgeStone Country Club,” “Pointe Royale Golf Club,”” Payne Stewart Golf Club,” Thousand Hills and the “Buffalo Ridge Springs Golf Course,” formerly known as “Branson Creek.”
  1. Two of Branson’s 18 hole courses have been on “Golfweek’s Best Courses You Can Play in Missouri List – The Payne Stewart Golf Club was the No. 1 course in Missouri on “Golfweek’s 2013 Best Courses You Can Play List” with “Branson Creek” as No. 2. Although Branson Creek has undergone substantial renovation and has been renamed the “Buffalo Ridge Springs Golf Course,” it is a PGA Championship course used in the “PGA Champions Tour Bass Pro Shops Legends of Golf at Big Cedar Lodge Tournament.”
  1. All this great golf is located minutes away from all that Branson offers – Although all these courses are within a 20 minute drive of the Branson Strip, four of them “Pointe Royale Golf Club,”” Payne Stewart Golf Club,” “Thousand Hills” and “Don Gardner Par 3 Course” are within five minutes from the Branson Strip providing the ultimate flexibility to combine an ultimate golfing adventure with everything else Branson offers into a truly unique and memorable experience.

For more information on golfing in Branson, lodging located on the edge of course fairways, or Branson shows, attractions and other activities, including tickets and reservations, please feel free to contact the Branson Tourism Center by calling 1-800-785-1550 or through its website, www.BransonTourismCenter.com .

A list of 12 reasons why you and your family should consider Branson for a truly amazing vacation

Silver Dollar City's record setting wooden coaster ,"Outlaw Run," is one example of the fun and excitement Branson offers.

Silver Dollar City’s record setting wood coaster ,”Outlaw Run,” is one example of the fun and excitement Branson offers.

Curious about what Branson means to those who have visited it or heard about it; the Branson Tourism Center, one of Branson’s largest and most respected vacation planning services, asked the following question on its Facebook Page this week:

“Based on what you have seen, experienced or heard about Branson, what one word would you use to describe what Branson means to you?”

We believe that the following one word responses, from the dozens received, describe the ideal place for a family to have an amazing vacation filled with the excitement, fun and adventure that will provide wonderful memories for years to come and are presented without further embellishment:

1. Family
2. Memories
3. God loving
4. Fun
5. Happy
6. Fantabulous
7. Entertaining
8. Exciting
9. Comfort
10. Home
11. Relaxing
12. Enjoyable

While we are at it, let’s make it a “Baker’s Dozen:”

13. Wholesome

If this sounds like the type of place you might want to share with your family and you want more information about what Branson has to offer please feel free to contact the Branson Tourism Center by calling 1-800-785-1550 and talking with one of their Branson based Vacation Planners. There is absolutely no charge for this service. To get an excellent overview of all that Branson has to offer on line visit www.Branson.Com

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