Highway 65 construction impact on travel between I-44 and Branson this summer

“The announced renovation of Highway 65 in Springfield is scheduled to start on July 10,” said Preston Garrison, Director of Operations for the Branson Tourism Center. “The southbound Highway 65 exits, from both the east and west are scheduled to be closed the weeks of July 10 and July 17. There will be no impact on the northbound lanes during that period, he added.

Angela Eden, Senior Communications Specialist for the Southwest District of the Missouri Department of Transportation said that it’s a major $10.8 million project. It includes rebuilding the outside two lanes in each direction between Kearney and Sunshine Streets and other work.

In addition to the southbound exit closures, Highway 65 will be closed, one direction and location at a time, at various times, between Kearney and Sunshine Streets in Springfield. The northbound lanes will be open through the Week of July 31while the southbound lanes are being worked on. The southbound lanes will be open after the Week of July 31 while the northbound lanes are worked.

The official “signed detour” is I-44 to Route 360/60 (James River Freeway) at Exit #69. Once on the James River Freeway, follow it east and exit onto Highway 65 south. Reverse the process when traveling to I-44 from Branson. Garrison expects no impact for those traveling to and from the west on I-44. For them, ‘The James River Freeway,’ at Exit 69, is an ideal route,” he said. He points out that those traveling from and to the east will have about 15 to 20 minutes added to their trip using the “signed detour.”

Although there are alternative routes to the official “signed detour,” he advises their use only by those familiar with the area. It provides a clean shot to and from and to I-44 with no stop lights or exposure to local Springfield’s traffic which will also be detouring around the construction.

Here’s the specific closure dates and segments of Highway 65 impacted by the construction during those dates:

Week of July 10 into Week of July 31- Southbound Lanes:

Week of July 10– The westbound I-44-to-southbound Route 65 ramp and the eastbound I-44-to-southbound Route 65 ramp will be closed as well southbound Route 65 between Kearney Street and Division Street.

Week of July 17– The westbound I-44-to-southbound Route 65 ramp and the eastbound I-44-to-southbound Route 65 ramp will be closed as well southbound Route 65 Division Street and the Chestnut Expressway.

Week of July 24 into the Week of July 31– Southbound Route 65 will be closed between Chestnut Expressway and Sunshine Street.

Week of July 10 through Week of July 31- Northbound Lanes: There will be no impact on northbound travel on Highway 65 between Branson and I-44

Week of August 7 into Week of August 28- Northbound Lanes

Week of August 7– Northbound Route 65 will be closed between Sunshine Street and Chestnut Expressway.

Week of August 14– Northbound Route 65 will be closed between Chestnut Expressway and Division Street.

Week of August 21 into the Week of August 28- Northbound Route 65 will be closed between Division Street and Kearney Street.

Week of August 7 into the Week of August 28- South Bound Lanes: There will be no impact on south bound travel on Highway 65 between Branson and I-44.

For more information, please feel free to call one of Branson Tourism Center’s Branson based Travel Planners at 1-866-593-9740. They’ll also answer questions about Branson including its shows, hotels, and attractions as well as assist with reservations. There is no charge for this service and they are available daily, except Christmas Day, from 9:00 AM to 8.00 PM.

 

Best Branson Insider Highlights for July 2017

Families will enjoy the spectacular magic of “Illusionist Rick Thomas.”

“One of the greatest joys of July in Branson is to see so many families creating wonderful vacation memories. Branson overflows with the vibrancy of families together, experiencing the unique fun, excitement, and spirit of Branson,” said Annette Wood, Director of Sales and Marketing for the Branson Tourism Center. “From spectacular firework displays, to lakes, over 120 live shows, rides, water parks, golf, and more, there’s just so much to see and do in Branson.” She added.

Along with our Highlight List, containing some of the best of what’s going on in Branson during July, here’s our Featured Show, Limited Engagement, and Event of the Month:

Featured Show of the Month: If your family wants to have a great time together, enjoys magic, stunning illusions and spectacular beauty, you don’t want to miss the Illusionist Rick Thomas Show. With headline shows in Las Vegas, years of successful tours around the world, and the honor of the Academy of Magical Arts awarding him its “Stage Magician of the Year Award,” he’s at the top of the magic game. His unique ability to keep audiences of all ages and walks of life simultaneously spellbound throughout his performance is “magical.”

Hit Las Vegas show, “Raiding the Rock Vault,” comes to Branson for a limited engagement.

Featured Limited Engagement of the Month: Raiding the Rock Vault goes back in time on a magical musical journey. That journey takes you from 1960 to 1990, with classics from The Rolling Stones, The Who, The Doors, Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix, The Eagles, Queen, AC/DC, Deep Purple, Van Halen, Journey, Heart, Free, Aerosmith and others. Experience history of rock ‘n’ roll as it comes to life in this live rock and roll concert featuring a stunning light show, video screen, dancers and high-quality concert sound production.

Featured Event of the Month: Silver Dollar City’s Star-Spangled Summer Festival offers family fun and entertainment you won’t find anywhere else. See the world famous Harlem Globetrotters perform their one of a kind show for their final season at Silver Dollar City, your favorite cartoon characters, Chris Perondi’s Stunt Dog Experience, and much more! And that’s beside everything else Silver Dollar City offers. The 1880s styled them park has over 40 thrilling rides and attractions including “The World’s Most Daring Wood Coaster,” Outlaw Run, demonstrating craftsmen, shows, and other activities.

Limited Engagement Highlights (Sorted by starting date)

Jul 5: T. G. Sheppard & Kelly Lang
Jul 6-22: Raiding the Rock Vault

Special Event Highlights (Sorted by starting date.)

Jul 1-Sep 4: Branson Landing’s Annual School Shoes For Kids
Jul 1-16: Silver Dollar City Star-Spangled Summer
Jul 1: Rockaway Beach Centennial Car & Bike Show
Jul 1: 30th Annual Fireburst Fireworks Celebration
Jul 1-4: Tanger 4th of July Weekend Sale
Jul 1-7: Ballparks of America – Week 6 Independence Day Boomer 10U-13U
Jul 1-3: Rockaway Beach 4th of July Weekend
Jul 2: Independence Day Celebration – Galena, MO
Jul 2: Chateau on the Lake Fourth of July Celebration
Jul 3: Branson Landing’s Annual Liberty Light Up Fireworks Show
Jul 3-4:
Main Street Lake Cruises – July 3rd & 4th Fireworks Cruises
Jul 4: Rockin’ Rockaway Beach 4th of July Celebration
Jul 4: Firecracker 5000 Run
Jul 4: Hollister’s Annual 4th of July Celebration
Jul 4: 4th of July Celebration at Branson Auto & Farm Museum
Jul 6-22: Limited Engagement – Raiding the Rock Vault
Jul 8-14: Ballparks of America – Week 7 Mid-Summer Classic 10U-13U
Jul 14: The Dan Benton Band – Live in Concert
Jul 15-21: Ballparks of America – Week 8 The 76 Strip Sizzle 10U-13U
Jul 15-Jul 30: Silver Dollar City Moonlight Madness
Jul 22: SECOND ANNUAL VVA GOLF TOURNAMENT
Jul 22-Jul 23: Branson in July! Antique Festival of the Ozarks
Jul 22-Jul 28: Ballparks of America – Week 9 Missouri Heat Classic 10U-13U
Jul 28: The Mark Chapman Band – Live in Concert
Jul 28-Aug 12: Summer Movies in the Park at the Branson RecPlex
Jul 29-Aug 4: Ballparks of America – Week 10 Back to School Bash 12U-13U

For additional information on these events, Branson’s shows and attractions, or lodging please contact the Branson Tourism Center by visiting www.BransonTourismCenter.com, or calling 1-800-785-1550 and talking with a Branson-based vacation planning specialist. They will be delighted to answer any questions, and assist you with show or lodging reservations and there’s absolutely no charge for this service.

 

Branson’s lesser known attractions provide big family fun!

From dinosaurs and tigers to…

How neat is it that many of them are unique to Branson! Let’s take a closer look at a few.

Main Street Lake Cruises Lake Queen is a modern-day replica of the grand riverboats that once traversed the White River. It offers sightseeing cruises with spectacular panoramas, sights, and a closeness with the beauty, nature and history of the Ozarks that few of the millions of annual visitors to Branson experience. Each cruise is different. You can’t plan for a Bald Eagle to soar overhead or to be sitting in a tree, a mink scurrying along the shoreline, or many of the interesting things that happen daily. They either happen or they don’t but, when they do, you couldn’t have a better seat to see the show! It offers full beverage service and delicious lunch options.

Branson Auto & Farm Museum is 90,000 square feet of vintage chrome, modern designs, high performance and legendary styling in the form of 200 classic and collectible cars and trucks. It also has 180 farm tractors, implements, and buggies. What a great way to experience the history of classic and antique cars and farming tractors and equipment in one exciting attraction. Another neat feature is that many of the vehicles on display are also for sale.

The Branson Dinosaur Museum features a wide variety of enormous animals that once roamed the earth. The life-sized sculptures of these delightfully frightening and lovable creatures, from the “Micro Raptor,” one of the smallest dinosaurs to the two and a half story “T-Rex,” provide an educational and entertaining experience for kids of all ages!

Trains, boats, and more, Branson has it all!

The Branson Scenic Railway lets you step back in time and experience the beauty of the Ozarks aboard a vintage passenger train!  With unique and lovingly restored cars, dating from the late 1930’s to the early 1960’s, tunnels, trestles, and beautiful scenery, there’s no other experience like it in the Ozarks.

Wolfe Creek Preserve just north of Branson is home to the Ozark’s premier Eco-Adventure zip line experience, Branson Zipline. Enjoy the thrilling experience of zipping over the Preserve’s canopy. Pick from a range of options with guided canopy tours across numerous zip lines, platforms, and sky bridges. These include the 3-hr Ozarks Xplorer, 2-hr Flying Prospector, 1-hr Ridge Runner, and the Blue Streak Fast Line & Freefall Xpress, a thrilling zip from the top of the mountain to the base of the property with an incredible 100-foot freefall dismount.”

Branson’s National Tiger Sanctuary is an excellent educational and entertainment experience for young and old alike! The size, strength, and agility of many of the Sanctuary’s big cats will awe you. Their playful antics will amuse you even as the stories of how many came to live in this magnificent haven in the Ozarks touches your heart.

For more information on these attractions or other great Branson shows or lodging, please contact the Branson Tourism Center by calling 1-800-785-1550 or through their website www.BransonTourismCenter.com.

 

Branson Up Close and Personal with King’s Castle’s “Angel” vocalist, Maggie Moore

Maggie Moore with Robert Quibell, singing “Tonight” from “West Side Story,”during a recent performance of “Broadway’s Greatest Hits.”

Broadway’s Greatest Hits, at the Kings Castle Theatre, is one of Branson’s hottest new shows. It features timeless music, beautiful sets, colorful costuming, and a cast of some of the finest vocalists and dancers on any Branson stage. Rising Branson talent, the lovely and talented Maggie Moore, is one of the show’s four featured vocalists.

Maggie (MM), recently took time from her hectic schedule for this “Branson – Up Close and Personal” interview. “Branson Up Close and Personal” is a service of Branson Tourism Center (BTC), the seller of over 5 million Branson show and attraction tickets. The interview uses a “Question and Answer” format to introduce readers to a Branson star or personality.

BTC: If you could perform or meet with any entertainer/person (living or deceased) who would it be and why?
MM:  Julie Andrews. I love her music and everything about her. She’s just so encouraging!

BTC: Why should someone coming to Branson plan to see the Broadway’s Greatest Hits?
MM: [With a big heart revealing smile she enthusiastically said] Because it’s awesome!!

BTC: What do you think that kids ages 8-15 will like most about the Broadway’s Greatest Hits?
MM: There’s so much music in the show that will directly appeal to them such as, “Mary Poppins,” “Aladdin,” Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast” and more. There’s not a lot of “park and bark,” where someone just stands there and sings. The constant action, interaction between performers, dancing, and colorful costume changes appeal to adults and kids alike.

BTC: What do you like most about being a vocalist in the Broadway’s Greatest Hits?
MM: It’s all Broadway and I love the challenges of singing the different styles and musical influences that covers. In one number I’m singing down in the basement and in the next I have to pop to the top. I just love it!

BTC: Whether you’re in it or not what’s your favorite part of the show?
MM: Step in Time from the “Mary Poppins Segment” of the show. The set with its chimneys and the dancers. Some of the things they do is amazing! I remember watching it when they were setting it up and it made me feel like a kid.

BTC: What’s your personal favorite musical number in the show?
MM: That’s so hard, but I’m going to go with Tonight from the “West Side Story Segment” of the show.

BTC: What’s your favorite genre of music to listen to?
MM: Jazz and country

 BTC: What’s your favorite Genre of music to sing?
MM: Opera.

 BTC: Whether it’s in Broadway’s Greatest Hits or not, what song do you personally enjoy singing the most?
MM: There’s a song in college that I used to sing that I really love called Glitter and Be Gay from the operetta Candide.

BTC: Where were you born?
MM: I was actually born in Jacksonville, Florida about 40 miles from my hometown of St. Marys, Georgia.

BTC: When?
MM: 1990

BTC: Was there something special about your childhood that you think our readers would be interested in?
MM: It was wonderful. We lived in downtown St. Marys. I enjoyed the outdoors, the beautiful marshlands, and doing community theatre with my family.

BTC: How old were you when you first sang publicly and where was it?
MM: In the church choir at about the age of three or four.

BTC: When did you realize that you wanted to be a singer?
MM: There never was an “ah ha moment.” I’ve always loved singing. It became more focused when I was in college with a music theatre major.

BTC: Where did you first perform professionally?
MM: As an angel singing Ave Maria in the Nativity scene at Pensacola, Florida’s “Winterfest.”

BTC: In your career, of all the performances you have made and you have been in, no matter how big or small, which one personally meant the most to you and why?
MM: There’s not just one, it’s a type of performance. Those where someone comes up and tells me how a performance inspired, impacted or helped them.

BTC: What was your first impression of Branson?
MM: I loved it. There’s so much here and we love the natural beauty and outdoors.

BTC: Did you perform in Branson prior to performing at productions in the Kings Castle Theatre?
MM: No. I was working in a non-performing capacity, heard about the auditions at King’s Castle and tried out. I started out in “Dancing Queen” and went into the Dublin’s IrishTenors and The Celtic Ladies when it opened.

BTC: What King Castle’s Productions do you perform in?
MM: Broadway’s Greatest Hits and Dublin’s Irish Tenors and The Celtic Ladies

BTC: What’s your favorite thing to do in Branson when you are not performing?
MM: Being outside doing something. I like the lakes boating and fishing, especially when I am catching fish.

BTC: Do you have a “little known” fact about yourself that you think our readers would enjoy?
MM: I could eat chocolate all day long!

BTC: Do you live in the Branson Area?
MM: Yes.

BTC: Are you married?
MM: Yes, to Lukas.

For additional information or tickets for either Broadway’s Greatest Hits or Dublin’s Irish Tenors and The Celtic Ladies please contact the Branson Tourism Center by calling 1-800-785-1550, or by visiting www.BransonTourismCenter.com.

 

“Take me to the Hilton” in Branson

Branson’s luxurious Hilton Convention Center Hotel.

“Most cities the size of Branson don’t have one Hilton Hotel, let alone two,” said Preston Garrison, Director of Operations for the Branson Tourism Center. “Branson has two. Although different in size and looks, they both provide the premium Hilton lodging experience and are as close to Branson Landing and the Branson Convention Center as you can get,” he added.

The smaller of the two, the Hilton Promenade Hotel, is in Branson Landing, at the center of all that The Landing offers. Enjoy world class shopping; a $7 million synchronized water, fire, and light show; free concerts; dining, lake cruises, and much more. All just steps away from your “door.”

The Hilton Promenade has a full array of guest rooms including, Double Queen and King Deluxe rooms and one bedroom King Condos with fully equipped kitchens. All rooms feature “contemporary furnishings with rich colors and textures.”  Room amenities include “the Hilton Serenity Collection bedding with pillow top mattress, down comforter, and luxurious triple sheeting; a coffee maker, 32” flat panel televisions; spacious bathrooms; wireless internet; work desk, and the other quality touches for which Hilton is noted.” Other hotel amenities include a fitness center, indoor pool, restaurant, Foreign Currency Exchange, maid service, valet parking, gift shop, and much more.

The Hilton Convention Center Hotel, is in historic downtown Branson. It’s fewer than 75 yards from Branson Landing and joins the “Branson Convention Center.” The Hilton Convention Center’s elegant lodging and list of high-end amenities is not only consistent with what the Hilton brand stands for, but makes it one of only two “AAA Four Diamond” hotels in Branson.

It offers Double Queen and Deluxe King rooms as well as King Suites. All rooms include “Hilton’s Serenity Bed Luxury-Bedding Package which includes the Serenity mattress, Super Topper mattress pad, down-filled comforters, Touch of Down pillows, 250 thread-count sheets and duvet cover and custom decorative bed throws. Each hotel room offers a 32-inch LCD flat panel HD TV, Hilton Alarm Clock Radio with MP3 connection, sofa bed, work desk with ergonomic desk chair, two-line speaker phones with voicemail, data port, wired and wireless high-speed internet access, Cuisinart coffee maker, in room coffee welcome caddy, miniature refrigerator and much more. The handsomely appointed bathrooms, with granite counter tops, framed mirror and walk-in shower, offer The Serenity Bath featuring Crabtree and Evelyn’s La Source bath amenities.”

There’s a long list of high end amenities throughout the hotel starting with the “Level 2 Steakhouse.” Level 2 features 28-day aged corn fed Midwest beef, fresh seafood flown in from Hawaii three times a week, and much more. It is the Branson standard for elegant fine dining. The Hotel has two lounges the “Level 2” lounge located at the Level 2 and the first-floor lounge “Clear.”

The hotel has many other amenities including “a well-equipped, 24-hour business center, complete with computers, copier, and fax machine.” Its fitness center is open 24/7 and features “free weights and cardio machines with personal televisions.” There’s an indoor pool with an adjacent whirlpool and an outdoor pool. The outdoor “pool oasis” features comfortable, oversized seating, a fire pit, and private poolside cabanas.

Both of the Hiltons provide the level of hospitality Hilton is famous for, and are located close to Branson Landing, the Branson Convention Center, and historic downtown Branson. They are also ideally situated to get just about anywhere else in Branson conveniently using Branson’s alternate colored route system.

For information and reservations for either the Hilton Promenade Hotel or  Hilton Convention Center Hotel please contact the Branson Tourism Center by calling 1-800-785-1550 or through their web site www.BransonTourismCenter.com.

Branson’s 4th of July fireworks displays are an absolute blast!


Branson’s skies will be bursting with beautiful fire works displays in celebration of America’s Birthday.

“One of the most common questions we receive about this time of year is, ‘Does Branson have any 4th of July fireworks displays?’” said Preston Garrison, Director of Operations for the Branson Tourism Center. “It sure does! Starting with the College of the Ozarks ‘Honor America’ on June 25, Branson visitors will have several great fireworks displays celebrating and honoring America’s Birthday,” he added.

Here is a list of six of Branson’s major “4th of July” fireworks displays, with “Suggested Viewing Areas,” and other information. They are listed in order of date:

College of the Ozarks “Honor America”
Place: College of the Ozarks
Phone: 417-690-2212
Date/Time/Comment: June 25 starting at 5:30 PM with a BBQ picnic and children’s activities. These will include balloons, face painting, and an area where “guests can make thank-you cards for Veterans.” Starting at 6:00 PM AYO, Starring the Voices of Glory, and Red, Hot and Blue, and the Hunt Family Band will perform. The Patriotic Program begins at 8:30 PM including the Presentation of Colors and a patriotic music program by the College of the Ozarks Concert Band. The band will also provide the music for the spectacular fireworks display that will follow.
Suggested Viewing Area: At Lake Honor on the campus of the College of the Ozarks. Guests are advised to bring their own chairs. Alcohol, tobacco products, fireworks, and pets are strictly prohibited.

30th Annual Fireburst Fireworks Display
Place: Kimberling City
Phone: Table Rock Lake Chamber of Commerce – 417-739-2564
Date/Time/Comment: July 1 at dusk.
Suggested Viewing Area: On Route 13 in downtown Kimberling City, near the Kimberling City Shopping Mall, about 6 miles south of Branson West. It can also be viewed very well from Table Rock Lake near the north end of the bridge.

Fireworks at Chateau on the Lake
Place: Chateau on the Lake just north of Table Rock Dam on State Highway 165/265
Phone: Chateau on the Lake – 417-334-1161 or 888-333-5253
Date/Time/Comment: July 2 at dusk. It follows an outdoor BBQ with live music.
Suggested Viewing Area: Table Rock Lake via boat or park in loop just south of new overrun floodgates on Table Rock Dam or the Chateau’s public areas.

Branson Landing 10th Annual “Liberty Light Up Concert and Fireworks”
Place: Branson Landing Town Square by Fountains
Phone: Branson Landing – 417-239-3002
Date/Time/Comment: July 3, starting at 7:00 PM with a concert featuring “Jason Pritchett & Steel Horses-LIVE In Concert!”  The spectacular Branson Landing “Liberty Light Up” fireworks display takes place over Lake Taneycomo after the concert. It’s “an amazing choreographed Fireworks Display Show produced by Gateway Fireworks Displays, from St. Louis, MO.” From its opening, to its “closing with a Gateway Fireworks Signature Grand Finale,” it will have you in awe.
Suggested Viewing Area: The Public Square by the Fountains, along the Branson Landing Board Walk, where permitted, and from a boat on Lake Taneycomo. One of the best seats in the house for this display is aboard Main Street Lake Cruises Lake Queen or Landing Princess.

Hollister’s 64th Fourth of July Fireworks Celebration
Place
: Downtown Hollister
Phone: City of Hollister – 417-334-3262
Date/Time/Comment: July 4 beginning at 6:00 PM with the 4th Annual Little Miss Firecracker Pageant. It will be followed by the area’s oldest 4th of July Fireworks Show at dusk. Each display is hand fired by members of the Western Taney County Fire District.
Suggested Viewing Area: Chad A Fuqua Memorial Park next to the Hollister City Hall or Business 65 in downtown Hollister.

52nd 4th Of July Rockin’ Rockaway Beach Celebration
Place
: Rockaway Beach
Phone: City of Rockaway Beach
Date/Time/Comment: July 4 with events starting at 4:00 PM. These fun events include a Lawn Mower Parade, the crowning of the Little Mr. & Miss Rockaway, the King & Queen of the Rock Arm Wrestling Contest, Dunk A Cop, kids games & prizes, and an Historic/Art Walk of Rockaway Beach. The celebration concludes at dark with a fantastic Laser Display & Grand Finale Fireworks.
Suggested Viewing Area: Downtown Rockaway Beach or from Lake Taneycomo. One of the best seats in the house for this display is aboard Main Street LakeCruises Lake Queen or Landing Princess. View the Laser and Fireworks display from Lake Taneycomo after a unique dusk cruise down to Rockaway Beach from Branson.

Branson Tourism Center’s Garrison reminds those planning to see any of the fireworks displays that the 4th of July period is one of the busiest times of the year in Branson. He points out the displays are popular, suggests planning to arrive as early as possible, and bringing your own chairs.

He also recommends making reservations for Branson lodging, attractions and shows in advance. Please contact the Branson Tourism Center, one of Branson’s largest and most respected vacation planning services, for information or help with reservations for lodging, shows and attractions as well as ticketing. Contact them either through their toll-free number 1-800-785-1550 or website.

 

Million Dollar Quartet is as awesome as it is unique and fun

Million Dollar Quartet’s Sara Tweedle as Dyanna, Tyler K. Hunter as Elvis Presley, Brad Waters as Carl Perkins, Cliff Wright as Johnny Cash and  John Countryman as Jerry Lee Lewis.

On December 4, 1956, in the Memphis storefront recording studio of Sun Records, one of the greatest jam sessions in rock n’ roll history took place. It was an impromptu gathering of four young recording artists who were soon to become legends; Carl Perkins, Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, and Jerry Lee Lewis. Although all went on to achieve legendary status, it’s the only time they’d ever perform together. Branson’s Million Dollar Quartet recreates that special moment in a unique awesome fun filled musical production for the whole family to enjoy.

Except for one newspaper article the day after the jam session, headlined “The Million Dollar Quartet,” and its accompanying picture, the jam session went largely unnoticed. It was so impromptu and unnoticed that even the “Father of Rock N’ Roll,” Sam Phillips, the owner of Sun Records, didn’t know it had been recorded. The recordings languished in the “Sun Records Catalog” for decades. When new owners of Sun Records discovered the “lost recordings,” they released 17 tracks from them in an album entitled, “The Million Dollar Quartet.”

That jam session, and those recordings, are the foundation and inspiration for the Tony Award winning musical, Million Dollar Quartet. The show combines timeless music that everyone knows, a great storyline, and an outstanding cast with great production and a unique set to create an incredible entertainment experience.

Most musicals feature music written specifically for that show. The music in the Million Dollar Quartet is a part of music history, sung by four music legends at the start of their careers. This needs a great cast to recreate that special moment and do it justice. The Million Dollar Quartet, both musically and dramatically, has the perfect cast to do just that!

Tyler K. Hunter as Elvis Presley, Cliff Wright as Johnny Cash, John Countryman as Jerry Lee Lewis, and Brad Waters as Carl Perkins, do a wonderful job of sharing the music and excitement of that night. They perform hit classics such “Great Balls of Fire,” “I’ll Walk the Line,” “Riders in the Sky,” “Hound Dog,” “Peace in the Valley,” “Blue Suede Shoes,” and many more. Watching them perform, in the show’s elaborate Sun Records Studio set, I felt, even if only for a moment, that I was getting a personal glimpse of what they actually shared together that night. It was awesome!

Sarah Tweedle as Dyanna, the girl accompanying Elvis, adds to the musical repertoire of the jam session with delightful performances of “Fever” and “I Hear You Knocking.” She’s also part of the vocal back up in many numbers. One of my personal favorite parts of the show is her part in the back up for “Riders in the Sky.” It’s a WOW moment, but you must look for it. Daniel Dossey, playing W.S. “Fluke” Holland, the drummer, and Austin Wilson, as Jay Perkins, the bass player, who was the brother of Carl Perkins, round out the musical cast.

Three of my personal favorite musical highlights were “Peace in the Valley,” “[Ghost] Riders in the Sky,” and “Fever.” The cast performance of “Peace in the Valley” was as inspirational as it was beautiful. The storyline personalizing each of their involvement in the performance makes it a special moment. “Ghost Riders in the Sky,” was a hauntingly powerful performance by Johnny Cash. It’s made even more enjoyable by the performance of the backup singers. Sarah Tweedle’s sultry performance of “Fever” was a joy to hear as it introduces a new vocal element to the music of the jam session.

Besides the great music, there’s an interesting storyline artfully woven into and around the shows music. Matt Joyce plays the role of Sam Phillips, the founder of Sun Records, the “Father of rock n’ roll,” and the person who set the circumstances in motion that resulted in the jam session. He does an excellent job of telling the story, and tying it together in a manner that keeps the audience’s rapt attention throughout. Dyanna’s interaction with Sam Phillips, Elvis, and the other three legends, adds another entertaining dimension to the story’s drama and impact.

It’s a story based on historical facts about what happened that day, and more. It shares not only what happened that day, but insight to the lives of the artists involved, their personal relationships, how the record industry worked, and the early history of rock n’ roll. But, it’s also a personal story with potential romance, competition, jealousy, expectation, disappointment, and hope.

The story of the greatest rock n’ roll jam session of all time presented in the Million Dollar Quartet is great entertainment that the whole family will enjoy.  It’s nonstop music, energy, fun, and enjoyment from beginning to end.

And in speaking of the show’s “ending;” it’s a good idea to remember the advice of Yogi Berra when he said, “It ain’t over till it’s over.” I don’t want to spoil the surprise, but, paraphrasing Yogi, “It ain’t over till after the coats fall.” It’s a spectacular finale to a wonderful entertainment experience that’s unlike anything else in Branson.

For additional information or tickets for Million Dollar Quartet please contact the Branson Tourism Center, one of Branson’s largest and most respected vacation planning services, by calling 1-800-785-1550, or by visiting www.BransonTourismCenter.com.

Branson Up Close and Personal with James Sibley, the “funny” in Pierce Arrow

James Sibley, as Janitor Gene Pool, cracking up the audience .

The advertisements for one of Branson’s most popular shows, Pierce Arrow, ask, “Want Funny?” Then they announce, “We got funny!”  After seeing the show recently, I can testify that they do indeed “have funny” and it’s provided by comedian James Sibley. He’s one funny guy!

We interviewed James Sibley (JS) with two objectives in mind. The first was getting a review of the Pierce Arrow show through his eyes. The second, sharing information with our readers that will enable them to know him better.

“Branson – Up Close and Personal” is a service of Branson Tourism Center (BTC), one of Branson’s largest and most respected vacation planning services. It uses a “Question and Answer” format to provide readers with an up close and personal look at a Branson star or personality.

BTC: What is the name of your character in Pierce Arrow?
JS: I am the janitor, “Gene Pool.”

BTC: Have you used that character elsewhere during your career or is it exclusive to the Pierce Arrow Show?
JS: It’s a character that I have developed and used elsewhere throughout my career.

BTC: If you could perform or meet with any entertainer/person (living or deceased) who would it be and why?
JS: It would have to be Elvis. He was one of the greatest entertainers of all.

BTC: Why should someone coming to Branson plan to see the Pierce Arrow Show?
JS: Together, we are going to have a great time filled with original family friendly comedy and great music.
BTC: What do you think that kids ages 8-15 will like most about the Pierce Arrow Show?
JS: The show’s music and comedy. Ages 8 through 80, and beyond, will all find a lot to enjoy.

BTC: What do you like most about being the comedian in the Pierce Arrow Show?
JS: The subtle way the comedy is worked into the show. The shows subtle beginning, using “Gene Pool” as the underdog, and getting the audience’s support against the trials he faces is so much fun!

BTC: Whether you’re in it or not what’s your favorite part of the show?
JS: The last two segments where I get to come out and perform comedy as myself, James Sibley, not “Gene Pool.”  I get to share some of the jokes and standup routines I have developed over the past 25 years and that have made me the comedian I am.

Pierce Arrow. Travis Spratt, Tony Turner, Scott Fraker, and Dan Britton, performing “Waydown.”

BTC: What’s your favorite musical number in the show and why?
JS: Pierce Arrow’s performance “Way Down.”  It’s not just because it’s an Elvis song and its one of the last he recorded. I love the way they perform it and Dan [Britton] hits those low notes.

BTC: Of all the comedy you do in the show which routine is your favorite and why?
JS: The seamless transition into the start of the show. The routine and interaction between “Gene Pool” and Bobby Blackburn is so subtle and seamless that many in the audience don’t even know that the show has started.

BTC: Where was your last gig before Pierce Arrow?
JS: Carnival Cruise Lines on January 25, 2015

BTC: Where were you born?
JS: Jackson, Mississippi, but I grew up in Shreveport, Louisiana

BTC: When?
JS: 1965

BTC: Was there something special about your childhood that you think our readers would be interested in?
JS: I had to wear a leg brace every day until I was 11 years old because of a mistake that was made during some simple surgery when I was very young.

BTC: When did you realize that you wanted to be a comedian?
JS: I first realized that I wanted to be an entertainer in high school where I played the trumpet in the band. I started singing in bands when I got out of high school. Then I went into musicals and comedy theatres. That lead to me into doing comedy on the side and into “improv” theatres

BTC: Where and when did you first perform professionally?
JS: It was a one night comedy show in Ashville, North Carolina

BTC: What are some of your favorite career highlights?
JS: Getting the opportunity to know and work with Tim Wilson. I heard him on the radio before I even got into comedy and wished I had the money to go see him. As it ended up, he became my mentor, friend, and we did over 300 shows together. Others were the “Comedy Store” and “Laugh Factory” in Los Angeles in 2005/2006, and getting to meet and work with some of the “Blue Collar Comedy Tour” guys.

BTC: In your career, of all the performances you have made and you have been in, no matter how big or small, which one personally meant the most to you and why?
JS: Doing 15 minutes of comedy with Bill Engvall in Shreveport, Louisiana, for an astronomical amount of money, performing before a hometown crowd of about 10,000.

BTC: When was the first time you were in Branson?
JS: In 2000 when I filled in for Paul Harris.

BTC: What was you first impression of Branson?
JS: That it was like “Bizarro Entertainment World.” Entertainers I remembered from my youth were here in Branson entertaining sold out audiences.

BTC: How did you end up in the Pierce Arrow Show?
JS: When the job opened in Pierce Arrow the timing was right from both a personal and professional perspective. I was working cruise ships when Dan [Britton] made the offer. My wife Viki and I were ready for a change and we made the decision to come to Branson.

BTC: What’s your favorite thing to do in Branson when you are not performing?
JS: We like to go to other Branson shows.

BTC: Do you live in Branson year-round?

JS: We live in Branson 10 months out of the year and in our house in Greenville, South Carolina the other two months.

BTC: Do you have a “little known” fact about yourself that you think our readers would find interesting?
JS: I’ve had bariatric surgery and am about 150 pounds lighter than some folks might remember.

BTC: Anything else you would like our readers to know?
JS: I can guarantee that if you come see the Pierce Arrow Show that you won’t be disappointed. There’s something, a comedy routine, song or songs, that will excite and entertain you. I know you’ll have a great time!

For additional information or tickets for the Pierce Arrow Show, or any of Branson’s shows and attractions, or for lodging arrangements, please contact the Branson Tourism Center by calling 1-800-785-1550, or by visiting www.BransonTourismCenter.com.

 

How awesome would it be to get the lowest guaranteed rate on great Branson lodging?

The Dutton Inn is one of the great Branson resorts and available under Branson Tourism’s Lowest Rate Lock Guarantee.

“Branson offers a wide choice of lodging. Finding just the right place for your family to stay won’t be a problem,” said Preston Garrison, Director of Operations for the Branson Tourism Center. “From  a quaint family owned inn, like the Dutton Inn, to a beautiful full-service resort, such as the Welk Resort, Branson has the ideal lodging for just about every need and budget,” he adds.

Garrison points out that finding the ideal lodging in Branson, at a price within your budget, might be easy. Finding the lowest price on a given lodging establishment for specific dates not as easy, unless, of course, you use Branson Tourism Center’s Lowest Rate Lock Guarantee Program. It that case, it’s as easy as making one phone call to 1-800-785-1550.

Simply select one of the awesome participating Branson hotels, indicated by the “Lowest Rate Lock” icon to the right of their name in the list, book your reservation through BTC, and subject to the programs minimal conditions, the price you pay for your lodging is guaranteed to be the lowest rate available. If you find a lower price offered for the same room on the same dates anytime between when you book your room and when you arrive in Branson, BTC will match the lower rate.

There are national Internet companies that claim to offer the lowest rate on Branson hotels and lodging. “Small print” conditions aside, how many of them offer free phone support to help make the reservation? Are they in Branson to help if there is a problem with your lodging?

The Branson Tourism Center is one of Branson’s largest and most respected providers of tourism services. It’s in Branson, has a BBB A+ accredited rating, and is the honored Recipient of the 2017 Better Business Bureau’s “Torch Award for Marketplace Ethics” for Southwest Missouri. BTC has sold over 5 million Branson show and attraction tickets and part of their success comes from the efforts of 100 employees dedicating themselves to marketing all that Branson offers and making sure that every customer has a great Branson experience.

Branson Tourism Center’s Garrison says that the one phone call to 1-800-785-1550 will put you in contact with one of Branson Tourism Center’s Branson based Vacation Specialists. Not only can they help with information on the Lowest Rate Lock Guarantee Program they can also help with making show, attraction, or lodging reservations. This ensures getting the best available show seats and lodging. One call takes care of it all!  There is no charge for this service and they are available daily, except Christmas Day, from 8:00 AM to 9.30 PM.

There’s nothing in the world like an “Ozark Mountain Christmas!”

Silver Dollar City’s Old Time Christmas is a beautiful “centerpiece” of Ozark Mountain Christmas.

“Do you want to celebrate the simple beauty of the traditional American Christmas?” asks Annette Wood, Director of Sales and Marketing for the Branson Tourism Center. “If so, there’s no better place for you to be than in Branson, Missouri for its spectacular, one of a kind, celebration of Ozark Mountain Christmas.

Running from November 1 through December 31, Ozark Mountain Christmas blends the best of what Branson offers into a unique community wide celebration of the traditional American Christmas. It’s combination of Christmas lights, displays, spirit, inspiration, fun, and live entertainment is unlike any other in the world!

The centerpiece of Ozark Mountain Christmas is Silver Dollar City’s An Old Time Christmas Festival. Its 5 million plus glittering Christmas lights perennially receives national recognition as one of the best Christmas light displays in America.  It also features a 5 Story Special Effects Christmas Tree, two Broadway productions, and the Holly Jolly ™ Christmas Light Parade with “Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer & Friends,” and more. In addition, weather allowing, its 30 plus rides and almost everything else the world class 1880s styled theme park features, is open to enjoy. Silver Dollar City’s Ozark Mountain Christmas is celebrated from November 4 through December 30.

Even in a town that’s famous for the quality of its live shows, Branson’s Christmas shows are a special. There’s excitement in the air as most of its most popular shows start their Christmas shows during the first week of November.

From the “Grinch” to the Nativity and true meaning of Christmas, Branson’s Christmas shows are full of color, fun, and the “Reason for the Season.”

For most of Branson’s shows, that’s a combination of the best from their regular season show and Christmas. Some share a mix of their ‘regular’ shows combined with special Christmas numbers throughout. These include shows such as Daniel O’Donnell, Dublin’s Irish Tenors and The Celtic Ladies, Legends In Concert, and Puttin’ On The Ritz. Shows such as Clay Cooper’s Country Express, Grand Jubilee, Presleys’ Country Jubilee, and The Haygoods, feature the best of their regular season show for half of the show and their Christmas show during the other half. Regardless of how it’s done, each show is like a snowflake, sharing Christmas in their own special way, giving Branson audiences a unique Christmas blessing and glimpse of what Christmas means to them.

Other shows are totally Christmas and only available during Ozark Mountain Christmas.  These include shows such as the Andy Williams Christmas Extravaganza, Christmas Wonderland, Hughes Brothers Christmas Show, Shoji Tabuchi, and The Texas Tenors Deep In the Heart of Christmas.

How about Christmas shopping? Branson offers a year-round world class shopping experience including Branson Landing; a large variety of unique galleries, craft shops, boutiques, and specialty shops; as well as discount malls such as the Tanger Factory Outlet Center and The Shoppes at Branson Meadows. Wood said that opportunities abound to find that special one of a kind Christmas gift, for that special person, in Branson.

One of the most unique aspects of Ozark Mountain Christmas is the spirit of the traditional American Christmas that underpins it. It’s OK to say “Merry Christmas.” It’s even socially acceptable to acknowledge that Christmas is the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ. One of the major annual highlights of Ozark Mountain Christmas is the annual “Adoration Lighting Ceremony and Parade” dedicated to “Keeping Christ in Christmas.” The 69th annual lighting of the huge Nativity Scene on top of Mount Branson and night “light parade,” will be held on December 3 in historic downtown Branson.

Wood points out that Ozark Mountain Christmas is one of the busiest times of the year in Branson and that not all shows and activities are available throughout the entirety of Ozark Mountain Christmas. To help ensure, not only availability, but getting the best available show seats and lodging, she suggests calling one of Branson Tourism Center’s Branson based Vacation Specialists at 1-800-785-1550. There is no charge for this service and they are available daily, except Christmas Day, from 8:00 AM to 9.30 PM.