Category Archives: Branson Shows

A reason why Branson is a special place that should not be taken for granted

One of the spectacular sets in Sight and Sound's spectacular "Joseph."

BRANSON, Mo., September 22, 2012 – “Working with people like Vicki and James Green adds special meaning to what we do,” said, Tammy Johnson, the Director of Operations for the Branson Tourism Center (BTC). “Making a trip to Branson so special for our customers that they will want to say, ‘Branson was the greatest experience that I’ve had in a long time,’ is our passion,” she added.

After the Greens first trip to Branson in 13 years, Vicki Green sent an email to Branson Tourism Center about their Branson trip and how much it meant to them. As BTC responded, by phone and email, with Vicki, it became apparent that her heartwarming story of courage and hope and its relationship to her trip to Branson should remind all of us what a special place Branson is and why we should not take either it or tomorrow for granted.

In her initial email she said, “Thank you all so much for making our vacation come true… Our vacation was just wonderful. The best time that I have had in years. I did not want to come home.

Dixie Stampede was awesome – the best show in Branson. I had never rode a train, so riding the ‘[Branson] Scenic Railroad’ train was so relaxing and the scenery was so beautiful. The show Joseph was great and we had the best seats in the house — 3 rows from the Tip Top, but we could see everything so well.  The ‘Waltzing Waters’ were so beautiful… The [Hollywood] Wax Museum was great… We went to the ‘Old Fashion Photos’ and dressed up as a Western Bride and Groom. That was so much fun.

“‘Baldknobbers’ and ‘Plantation’ are great places to eat. I got to go into the shops on the strip. My husband and I walked down the strip holding hands like a newlywed couple – after 36 years of marriage. I guess it was a second honeymoon for us…I can’t wait to come there again. There is still plenty to do.

“It had been 13 years since we had been there. Don’t want to wait that long again. Thanks to everyone. It was a perfect trip – it couldn’t have been better. The hotel [Dutton Inn] was wonderful…”

After receiving the original email, Lesley Davis, a Manager with BTC called to thank her for taking the time to share her Branson experience and for the kind things she had to say about the service she received from BTC. During that conversation Lesley discovered something else about why that trip was so special to the Greens, but let’s let the words of Vicki herself, from a second email she sent after the phone call, share that with us.

“Thank you so much for your call to me today. I felt so honored that you had taken from your time to just talk to one person out of thousands that probably come through there. I didn’t really expect to get a reply to that e-mail. I assumed someone would read it, then delete it and it’d be trash….

“I think Branson was very special to us because it had been a long time since we’d had a vacation. I was diagnosed with cancer in October 2007. A lot of surgeries and chemotherapy kept me down. I was barely able to get in a car, much less take a trip. Maybe a lot of people take Branson for granted. They go and know that in a few months they will go again, so it’s not as special.

“It was so good to be there and enjoy so many things and feel good to do them. I had prayed hard for God to bless me and he did a miracle with me. The problems that I was having I didn’t have while I was there. God has been so good to me. I am cancer free. I just had my 6 month check up. My Oncologist is going to do a Bone Scan. A little concern about bone pain I am having… God is able to take care of it…

“Branson was the greatest experience that I’ve had in a long time.”

We at the Branson Tourism center would simply say, “Thank you Vicki, not only for coming to Branson and giving us the honor of working with you to plan the trip, but for sharing your personal experience with us.” It is a reminder for those of us privileged to live and work in Branson not to take what surrounds us every day for granted and of the need to make sure that every trip to Branson for every customer is “special” enough so that they would want to echo your words, “Branson was the greatest experience that I’ve had in a long time.”

Branson celebrates Christmas with the “Andy Williams Christmas Show”

BRANSON, Mo., September 8, 2012 — Lynn Meredith, General Manager, of the Andy Williams Moon River Theatre said that “the Andy Williams Christmas Show in Branson this year will be even bigger and more spectacular. Andy Williams has been involved in all phases of his 21st Christmas show in Branson, including production, its music and the selection of the acts that will be in the show. Andy’s participation in the show will be determined by the progress of his recuperation.

“The full production show has spectacular sets, dancers, a full orchestra, lots of variety acts and   the beautiful music and sounds of Christmas all presented in the spectacularly decorated Andy Williams Moon River Theatre. It will feature new performers, as well as the most popular acts from last year’s show, such as the adagio dance team and quick change artists, ‘Pasha and Aliona.’ Additional acts will be announced soon.

“The Andy Williams Christmas Show will perform from November 1 through December 12, 2012.” For additional information or tickets for the Andy Williams Christmas Show or any of Branson’s other shows and attractions or for lodging arrangements please contact the Branson Tourism Center calling their toll free number 1-800-785-1550 or through their website

Acrobats of China – incredible feats amazingly performed

One scene from Prelude to "Acrobats of China."

BRANSON, Mo., September 3, 2012 — On any given day, Branson audiences have a choice of almost 100 live entertainment shows to pick from, including just about every genera of music one can think of, comedy, outdoor drama, tribute shows, talking dogs, magic and spectacular production shows. That said, after seeing the Acrobats of China, featuring the New Shanghai Circus on August 31, this writer can say. without a doubt, that it is a one of a kind cornucopia of color, excitement, grace, action, and danger that entertains all ages, from its exciting and colorful Prelude to its Finale.

This show is a circus of entertainment in terms of excitement, variety and color and, for sure, it has some great acrobats, but it is the talent, skill, elegance, grace and precision of all of its performers in act after incredible act that makes this show so special. Factor in colorful and elegant costuming, great choreography, lighting, sound, the sets used in each of the shows 15 separate acts along with the seamless transition from one act to the other and the result is not only a spectacular production, but an amazing entertainment experience.

The show starts its entertainment adventure with a colorful action filled Prelude that seemingly blends into the shows first act. Not to be repetitious, but it’s important to stress that each of the acts in the show has its own beautiful costuming, choreography and is presented by the performers with a skill level that simply has to be seen to believed. The acts include the Steel Wire, Hoop Diving, Juggling, Magic, soaring Silks, high flying precision Teeter Boards and many more. As amazing as the variety and uniqueness of the acts in this show are, their combination into a wonderful seamless two hours of nonstop color, excitement and precision performances is even more amazing.

One of the amazing feats performed by the Plate Spinners.

Many have seen a “Plate Spinning” act before, but have they seen seven performers spinning up to eight plates each while performing acrobatics? How about a Steel Wire act where the person walking the wire, among other things, also spins a dozen or so Hula Hoops. Speaking of hoops it’s hard to imagine more energy or danger than the shows Hoop Diving. Just picture running at full speed and launching yourself into the air through a hoop ,while performing acrobatics and then falling back to the ground.

There's "en pointe" and then there is "en pointe!"

When I first saw “The Human Ballet,” where a Ballet Dancer gracefully performs a ballet on the head and shoulders of her partner, ” I wrote, “It is one of the most unique, incredible and beautiful things I have ever seen performed on a stage.” Its performance in the 2012 show was a delight and reinforces that opinion. Another remarkable thing about this show is that it is constantly changing, adding different acts and changing acts from season to season to provide their audience with a fresh and even more exciting entertainment experience. A new act this year, the “Mouth Flower,” combines synchronized balancing and acrobatics with strength into an amazing and beautiful spectacle.

The Acrobats of China is truly a show that excites and entertains children as well as adults equally. I interviewed two families, or more appropriately, with the parent’s permission, the children in the families and without exception they really liked the show and thought that “other kids would too.”

They all had their favorite acts, but one real young boy really had a favorite act! I had asked the older kids in his family what act they liked and they had responded. Their younger brother, who I estimate was five years old or younger and whom I had not asked for his favorite act because I had not noticed him standing beside his dad, indicated to his mother that he had a favorite. Although I could not understand what he said, his mom said it was “the boys” and explained it was the “Human Strength” act. What a wonderful way to illustrate the fact that this show truly has something for every age.

The Acrobats of China is a unique, exciting and colorful one of a kind entertainment experience performed by athletic, skilled, energetic and graceful performers to perfection. For additional information or tickets for the Acrobats of China or any of Branson’s other shows and attractions or for lodging arrangements please contact the Branson Tourism Center (BTC), one of Branson’s largest and most respected vacation planning services. BTC can be reached by either calling their toll free number 1-800-785-1550 or through their website

Rain or sun Branson means fun

The Titanic Museum Attraction is just one of many non weather dependent Branson Attractions open year round for Branson visitors to enjoy.

BRANSON, Mo., August 30, 2012 — “Branson is blessed in that the majority of its attractions and shows are not weather dependent,” said Tammy Johnson, the Director of Operations for the Branson Tourism Center. “Heat, cold, snow, rain or sun, there is always fun to be had in Branson,” she continued.

The forecast rain from “Hurricane Isaac” scheduled to impact the Branson area, primarily on Friday, with some lingering showers on Saturday, will definitely impact outdoor related activities such as golf, lake activities and certain outdoor attractions. Johnson points out that regardless of the weather there is always something that’s exciting and fun to do in Branson.

The majority of Bransons attraction’s are open regardless of the weather. Take a voyage aboard the Titanic Museum Attraction, visit the Hollywood Wax Museum, Ripley’s Believe It or Not, or the Butterfly Palace & Rainforest Adventure. How about visiting the “Smithsonian of the Ozarks,” the “Ralph Foster Museum” at the College of the Ozarks, indoor miniature golf at Grand Country or one of the many other fun filled non weather dependent activities Branson offers?

With the exception of the Shepherd of the Hills Outdoor Drama, Branson’s full slate of outstanding and entertaining live shows is not weather dependent. With Branson shows covering the gamut from Presleys’ Country Jubilee, Yakov Smirnoff, Jim Stafford, Shoji Tabuchi, Rankin Brothers, Clay Cooper Country Express, Duttons, Acrobats of China, Legend of Kung Fu, Dixie Stampede, Yakov’s Dinner Adventure, SIX, Pierce Arrow, George Dyer, Dixie Stampede, the Haygoods, Showboat Branson Belle, Todd Oliver and Friends, Hamner and Barber Variety Show and dozens of other there is a show available for every entertainment interest.

Although weather certainly has some impact on shopping, as is the case with its attractions and shows, the vast majority of Branson’s famous shopping is not weather dependent and is open “rain or shine” year round. This includes Tanger Mall, The Shoppes at Branson Meadows, Branson Landing with its 100 retail shops, eateries and other activities, the Branson’s Historic Downtown Shopping District and the  many famed specialty, craft and gift shops located throughout the Branson area.

For additional information Branson’s activities or tickets for the any of Branson’s shows and attractions or for lodging arrangements please contact the Branson Tourism Center (BTC), one of Branson’s largest and most respected vacation planning services. BTC can be reached by either calling their toll free number 1-800-785-1550 or through their website

3 Redneck Tenors is an incredible vocal journey

Billy Billee (L), Billy Bob and Billy Joe, The 3 Tenorinas,performing at the "Masonic Lodge and Catfish Farm

BRANSON, Mo., August 25, 2012 –  After seeing the 3 Redneck Tenors show in each of its last two seasons in Branson and just having seen the 2012 version this week, all that can be said is that the 2012 edition is a completely different experience that takes an already unique and entertaining show and makes it, exponentially, even more so. From the git-go, one thing should be made perfectly clear, although the story line of the first half of the show is based on the entertaining and funny adventures of three loveable Texas Rednecks who have great vocal talent, as they transition from being unknowns in Paris, Texas, to performing on Broadway and in Carnegie Hall in New York City, it is the vocal performance of the shows star’s that is the heart and soul of the show.

The 3 Redneck Tenors is funny; has a very talented live band, composed of David Cassavitis, Musical Director; Paul Houser, Guitar; Tim Pope, Percussion; Matt Skates, Bass and Tom Eckert, Violin; lots of colorful costuming and an amusing funny story line. However, it is all of that in combination with the magnificent vocals of the show’s stars, “Billy Joe,” performed by Tenor Matthew Lord; “Billy Bob,” performed by Tenor Alex Bumpas, and “Billy Billee,” performed by Baritone, Blake Davidson that make this show such a unique and special experience. Each of them has  extensive operatic experience which is displayed over a wide variety of music ranging from their compound version of “Ave Maria” and “Dixie,” “Hound Dog” to “The Impossible Dream” and the inspirational “Nessun Dorma.

The shows Redneck theme is played out during the first half of the show, starting with a Redneck memorial service that adds new meaning to the term, “Chip off the old block;” the discovery of the 3 Redneck Tenors by the “Colonel,” performed by Dinny McGuire and their journey from unknown obscurity to stardom along with the realization of their dreams. The journey is an exciting, fun filled and fast paced “adventure” filled with colorful costuming changes, wonderful humor and absolutely great vocals. This writer’s favorite stops along the journey was when the “3 Tenorinas” performed “You Light Up My Life” a benefit at “The Masonic Lodge & Catfish Farm” and the “3 Village Tenors” performed “YMCA” at “The Mudcat Saloon.”

Blake Davidson (L), Dinny McGuire, Alex Bumpas and Matthew Lord performing the shows finale "Nessun Dorma.."

A major change in the show this year is its second half and WOW what a wonderful change it is. When the curtain closes on the first half it closes on 3 Redneck Tenors. When it rises for the second half, it rises on the shows three stars appearing as themselves, with the red neck persona nowhere evident , as they sing the “Impossible Dream.” They introduce themselves and interact with the audience as they perform a variety of music ranging from Broadway to their powerful rendition of “Lone Prairie and a classical duo including “Figaro” and the shows closing piece, the beautiful, inspirational and powerfully sung “Nessun Dorma.”

The magnificent voices of its stars is showcased with just the right amount of “themed comedy” in the first half and explodes into an entirely different entertainment experience in the second half. What a delightful, personable and entertaining show. If you have never seen this show, don’t miss it and, if you have seen it before, but not this year, you owe it to yourself to see it again.

For additional information or tickets for the 3 Redneck Tenors or any of Branson’s other shows and attractions or for lodging arrangements please contact the Branson Tourism Center (BTC), one of Branson’s largest and most respected vacation planning services. BTC can be reached by either calling their toll free number 1-800-785-1550 or through their website

4th Annual CAM Gospel Sing-Off competition benefits area food pantries

CAM Christian Action Ministries

BRANSON, Mo., August 20, 2012 — The 4th Annual CAM Christian Action Ministries’ Gospel Sing-Off will be held on Sunday September 2nd at the spectacular Sight & Sound Theatre, the home of the spectacular production of “Joseph,” from 2 PM to 5 PM. The ten finalists will be competing for over $3,000 in prizes and the opportunity to sing at Silver Dollar City during the last day of its “Southern Gospel Music Picnic,” September 3, in this fundraiser for CAM’s mobile outreach and food pantries in Branson and Forsyth.

Jack Burke, CAM Board Chairman said, “The level of entry talent just keeps getting higher every year. Groups that would have made it to the finals in past years, didn’t make it this year. Our preliminary judges had an extremely difficult time arriving at a decision on the final 10 contestants to perform. This year’s show should truly be awesome”

For the 4th consecutive year, Bob Hubbard of the “Foggy River Boys” and “The Jordanaires,” will emcee the Sing Off. Guest appearances will also be made by the “Voices of Glory,” who finished in the Top Five of the NBC prime time hit show, “Americas Got Talent,” and last year’s winner “Southern Raised” as well as saxophonist Gary Dooms. The celebrity judges will include the “Voices of Glory,” Jak Knudsen from the show SIX, world class tenor George Dyer from the George Dyer show, Ronnie Page, Monte Schisler, and Ben Dutton from the Duttons show.

Tickets for the Gospel Sing-Off are available through the Sight & Sound Theatre’s reservations at 1-800-377-1277, at the Sight & Sound Theatre’s lobby box office or through the Branson Tourism Center at 1-800-785-1550. Reserved seat tickets are a $12 donation for adults and $6 for children 12 and under.

Information provided by CAM lists the following information on the Finalists:

Heart to Heart is the Branson-based duo of Sharon and Jerry Mays. Winners of numerous awards, this couple brings an energetic blend of Southern and Country gospel with a touch of R&B and Southern Pop. Heart to Heart appears regularly at the Night Light in Branson.

Rachel Parker is a 16 year old junior at Branson High School who has won the high school talent contest and 1st place at the Dallas Expo. Rachel loves to sing for the Lord and performs at any church or venue that presents an opportunity.

Master’s Praise Vocal Group is an all-male acapella Christian gospel group from St. James, Missouri. Singing praises of God is an avocation, as each member has regular jobs and are active in their respective churches.

The Tiptons are a family-based group consisting of mother Virginia Tipton, daughter Lesa Tipton, son Dan Tipton, and friends Jamie and Dennis Esteb. Based in Evening Shade, Arkansas, the Tipton musical ministry has been celebrating the Lord in song for over 50 years.

Aleah Ziegelbauer is a contemporary Christian soloist from Nixa, Missouri, who loves to carry Christ’s loving message through song.

The Barnettes of Branson, Missouri are an award-winning duo known for their tight harmonies in both original and traditional gospel music. Larry and Sandra Barnette are strongly involved with Cape Fair’s Christian Senior Ministries.

The Fair Family of Rogers, Arkansas includes Jacob, Jonathan, Sarah, Daniel, and Nathaniel, ranging in age from 14 to 22. Instrumentalists, singers, and dancers, the Fair siblings love to celebrate Christ’s message.

The Believers Trio of Springfield, Missouri specialize in Southern Gospel. Charlie Norman, Jaimee Brummett, and Julie Renee’ Fergerson strive to see people come to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ through song.

The Kings are a family band from Monticello, Illinois consisting of seven siblings. Individually award-winning instrumentalists in banjo and fiddle competitions, this lively family loves to entertain audiences with Christian messages of love.

Wendell Johnson has won many Christian vocalist awards over the years and loves to touch the hearts of others with his testimony of faith.

A “legendary” Branson entertainment experience just keeps getting better and better

The Blues Brothers performed by Justin Clark and Bucky Heard.

BRANSON, Mo., August 17, 2012 — In a previous review of this show this writer said, “Saying the Legends in Concert Show is just another tribute show is like saying the ‘Kentucky Derby’ is just another horse race. There are horse races and there is the ‘Kentucky Derby.’ There are tribute shows and there is the ‘Legends in Concert Show.’” After seeing the Legends in Concert on August 11, all that can be said is, “Its only gotten better, don’t miss this show if you want to see one of the most unique and entertaining shows in Branson.”

The foundation of the show, is celebrity impersonators recreating legendary superstar performers. Each recreation of these legendary superstars is a wonderful artistic performance incorporating the voice, mannerisms and looks of the star being recreated which is fabulous on its own. When combined with the rest of the shows cast, great production and choreography the result is no less than a “legendary” entertainment experience.

While acknowledging that the stars of the show are the “Legends” performing, it is the combination of their performances and the versatility and talent of the band and the shows dancers and vocalists that help make it such an outstanding entertainment experience. It makes no difference if it’s the music and performance style of Faith Hill, Tim McGraw, the Blues Brothers, Michael Jackson, or Elvis, these talented instrumentalists, dancers and singers adapt to that music and style seamlessly, adding an additional element of reality and enjoyment to each of the “Legends” performances. Although apparent throughout the show, perhaps nowhere was it more obvious than during William Hall’s recreation of “Michael Jackson.” It was amazing!

The “Legends in Concert Band is composed of Kevin Allen, Guitar/Band Leader; Lyman Clark, Keyboard; Eddie Howard, Drums and Brian Zerbee, Bass Guitar. The “Legends in Concert Dancers” are Dance Captain Stephanie Drey, Elisha Conner, Jamie Curry Cindy Dardas, Larry Miller, and Stephanie Richardson. Conner and Richardson also do an excellent job in providing the vocal backup for many of the shows numbers.

William Hall during his outstanding performance of Michael Jackson.

The typical Legends in Concert show features five recreations. Two of them, the “Blues Brothers,” portrayed by Bucky Heard and Justin Clark and “Elvis Presley” portrayed by Dean Z are Branson based and are in every show. The other three come from a constantly evolving cast of “super star legends.” Appearing in the show I saw, and until September 2, are Annika Weaver as “Faith Hill,” Zach Parrish as “Tim McGraw” and William Hall as “Michael Jackson.”

Each of the “Legends” did a mini concert “set,” consisting of four to six hits from the careers of the superstars they were impersonating, complete with its own costuming, musical arrangements and choreography. This writer’s personal favorite number from each “set” was Faith Hill’s medley including “This Kiss” and “The Way You Love Me;” Tim McGraw’s “Live Like You Were Dying;” the Blues Brother’s “Shout,” Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” and Elvis Presley’s “If I Can Dream.”

The duets of “Let’s Make Love” and “It’s Your Love,” by Faith Hill and Tim McGraw were beautiful and the way they were worked into the production during each of their separate sets added yet another pleasant surprise to an already wonderful show. The energy and excitement of the Blues Brothers’ performance is special and a great way to end the first half of the show. Speaking of energy and excitement, the performance of Michael Jackson was a super way to start the second half of the show. In this writer’s opinion, the back to back performances of the “Blues Brothers” and “Michael Jackson,” with its accompanying choreography, costuming and involvement from the Legends In Concert Dancers and Band was a unique joy to experience and nothing short of extraordinary.

The synergy and excitement of this show, resulting from the combination of the “superstars” impersonators, the band, dancers, colorful costuming and great production provides Branson audiences with a unique and exceptional entertainment experience. For additional information or tickets for Legends in Concert or any of Branson’s other shows, attractions and activities or for lodging arrangements please contact the Branson Tourism Center, one of Branson’s largest and most respected vacation planning services. Branson Tourism Center can be reached by either calling their toll free number 1-800-785-1550.

The Shoji Tabuchi Show – a spectacular world class Branson experience

Shoji Tabuchi performing "In The Garden."

BRANSON, Mo., August 2, 2012 — In a town called the “Live music show capital of the world,” there is no one individual who is the very embodiment of the spirit and reality of what that means more than the legendary Shoji Tabuchi. Shoji has been entertaining Branson audiences for more than three decades, over two of which have been in the magnificent Shoji Tabuchi Theatre, designed and built specifically for him and the spectacular production show that he and his family presents.

For many shows, just having a violinist/fiddler and consummate entertainer such as Shoji along with a live band would be enough, but the opportunity to watch a performance of the Shoji Tabuchi Show last weekend, demonstrated that is not the case with this show. Dancers, vocalists and magnificent costumes, sets, choreography and production are seamlessly woven in with Shoji’s extraordinary talents to present a beautiful, unique and exciting entertainment spectacle without equal in Branson.

As would be expected, the show stars the incomparable fiddle playing and personality of Shoji Tabuchi. Ok, so it has some pretty good violin playing too because, as Shoji points out, “‘They’ are actually the same instrument; what makes them different is how you ‘fiddle around’ with it.” From the time he makes his unusual entrance onto the stage until his last number in the show, from Texas swing and Boogie Woogie, to Broadway, classical and fiddle standards such as “The Orange Blossom Special,” presented as only Shoji can, he provides a fiddle/violin entertainment experience that is without equal in Branson and, perhaps, anywhere.

What a joy to sit and listen to Shoji play. Whether it’s the classic Patsy Cline hit “Crazy,” “Unchained Melody,” “Memories” from the Broadway hit Cats, playing in a duet, as his daughter Christina sings her original song, “Living in Fear” or one of the many other numbers he plays, the performance is absolutely amazing! This writers three “Shoji” favorites were his version of “Hawaii Five O,” “In the Garden” and “Unchained Melody.”

Shoji and Christina during their performance of the shows patriotic finale.

If there was only Shoji that would be enough, but there’s so much more. Dorothy Tabuchi, Shoji’s wife, is the show’s producer. From Shoji’s dramatic entrance, Mardi Gras Parades through the aisles, trains moving across the stage to giant Japanese Taiko drums, Mary Poppins flying through the air, magnificent dramatic sets, dancers, singers and a great live orchestra, she has produced one of the most unique, entertaining and fascinating shows most people will ever experience.

Christina Lingo Tabuchi, Shoji’s daughter, is an accomplished vocalist and dancer adding yet another dynamic and entertaining element to the show. Her rendition of the Adele hit “Rolling in the Deep” and the duet of her original song ” Living in Fear,” with her singing and Shoji playing the fiddle were this writers personal favorites.

The combination of Shoji’s talent and personality, with that of Christina, his orchestra, singers and dancers, some of the most elaborate sets and beautiful costuming on any Branson stage and production and choreography to match, results in an entertainment extravaganza that is a joy to see, hear and experience. The Shoji Tabuchi show is a “musical cornucopia of talent, color, action, excitement and spectacle” that is a magnificent and unique world class entertainment experience that should not be missed.

For additional information or tickets for the Shoji Tabuchi Show or any of Branson’s other shows and attractions or for lodging arrangements please contact the Branson Tourism Center by calling their toll free number 1-800-785-1550.

American Idol® Finalists continue to sizzle in Branson

All five Finalists RJ, left, Katie, Ruben, Vonzell and Bo.

BRANSON, Mo., July, 29, 2012 — The third of three groups of American Idol® Finalists performing in the American Idol® Finalists In The Finalists Live show continues the high quality, exciting and sizzling entertainment experience provided by the first two groups and will be performing in Branson at the Andy Williams Moon River Theatre through August 18th. As was the case with their predecessors, this group of extremely talented nationally recognized American Idol® Finalists, Reuben Studdard – 2003 Winner, Bo Bice – Runner-Up in Season 4, Vonzell Solomon – 3rd Place in Season 4, Katie Stevens – from Season 9 and RJ Helton – from Season 1, gives Branson show goers a performance that demonstrates, from their first note to their last, exactly why they are American Idol® Finalists.

As I sat there watching the show, I could not help but appreciate how much the live band and background vocalists contributed to the overall enjoyment of the show. What makes it even more amazing is that they have had to prepare for, and work with, 15 different performers, concerts, and styles of music in such a short period of time. One can only imagine the effort that has gone into their contribution to the show. The band consists of Ricki Holmes, Music Director, Keyboards; Doug Clifford, Drums; Matt Skates, Bass; Adam Johnston, Guitar and Will Clark, Keyboards. The background vocalists are Shelia Davis, Jerry Pollock and Heather Peterson with the vocal coordination and arrangement done by Jana King Evans.

Pete Peterkin, who was a Season 4 finalist on “America’s Got Talent ®” opens the show demonstrating why he was referred to on the show as the “Rock and Roll President.” After doing his impression of President Obama he does some very impressive and entertaining impressions of a number of rock and roll and other stars including Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Ray Charles, Michael Jackson and others. Pete’s recollection of how he helped Johnny Mathis develop his singing style was not only funny, but a great impression of Mathis who will be doing his Christmas Show in Branson on November 16 and 17. Pete is personable, funny, relates well to the audience and is great at his impressions not only vocally, but instrumentally. It’s a wonderful way to open up the show and gets the audience primed and ready to “party” with the Finalists.

Katie Stevens opening set gets the crowd "feeling good."

Before performing their individual concerts, all five finalists open the show and are each featured in two opening numbers, “I Gotta Feeling” and “Get The Party Started.” “The party” gets jump-started by 19 year old Katie Stevens performing a powerful and energetic rendition of Adele’s “Rollin in the Deep.” If the audience reaction is any indication, her performance of “Feeling Good,” from the musical “The Roar of the Greasepaint – The Smell of the Crowd” really did have them “feeling good” and her performance of “Who You Are” was as inspiring as it was beautifully sung and was this writers favorite from her set. This is one talented young lady who got “the party started in grand style.

Next up was RJ Helton who started his set off with an energetic performance of the Stevie Wonder hit “Superstition.” A highlight of his set was his performance of an original song from his first album, “Real Life,” entitled “Love Song” that he wrote to God in thanks for all that He has done for him. That, coupled with his performance of “My Devotion,” in the opinion of this writer, provided one of the singularly most inspirational and beautiful musical moments of the show.

Vonzell Solomon, has the energy of the “Energizer Bunny” on steroids and a voice to match. From her opening number Beyoncé’s “Crazy in Love,” through the Whitney Houston classic “I Have Nothing” to her beautiful and poignant performance of her original song, “Half a Heart,” written when her heart was broken, this amazing artist demonstrates a range of styles, stage presence and vocal quality that shows not only what it takes to be an American Idol®  Finalist, but place in the top three. What an outstanding way to take the show to its intermission.

Ruben Studdard showing why he won American Idol®.

The second half of the show starts with Bo Bice, the runner up to Carrie Underwood in Season 4. His set includes a variety of styles from hard rock to the beautiful “Real Thing,” the inspirational “You Take Yourself with You” and “Sweet Home Alabama” with a guest “feature” from his fellow Alabamian Ruben Studdard. It is absolutely amazing the way Bo transitions from performing hard rock to the hauntingly beautiful performance of “You Take Yourself with You,” with its powerful and inspirational message, while taking his audience along on the wonderful journey.

The last performer was Ruben Studdard who demonstrated the “smoothly soothing vocal style” that not only won him the title of “American Idol®” in 2003, but demonstrates why Gladys Knight nicknamed him the “Velvet Teddy Bear.” Whether it his mama’s favorite song, “How Can You Mend a Broken Heart,” a Luther Vandross song, “Only for One Night,” or his first single the Westlife hit, “Flying Without Wings” Ruben’s performance is one of those rare entertainment gems that will be remembered long after the performance is over. His vocal talent and ability to have the audience vested in his performance, from the first note of his performance, was a joy to experience.

This excellent show closes with all five Finalists joining on stage to sing “Life in a Northern Town” and “R-O-C-K in the USA.” Don’t miss this opportunity to see these talented nationally recognized American Idol® Finalists perform in this exceptional and amazing show through August 18.

For additional information or tickets for the American Idol® Finalists In The Finalists Live show or any of Branson’s other 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 their toll free number 1-800-785-1550 and talking with one of their Branson based Vacation Planners.

Color by the numbers to get around in Branson like a pro

BRANSON, Mo., July 26, 2012 — “Compared to a lot of destination cities, navigating around Branson is a joy,” said Tammy Johnson, the Director of Operations for the Branson Tourism Center. “The relatively compact size of its entertainment district, route numbering and colored route system makes it very easy to efficiently find and get to Branson’s shows, attractions, shopping, lodging or just about any other place you would want to go.”

Branson Numbered/Colored Route Map

The vast majority of people coming into Branson do so via Highway 65, which, as is the case with the major odd numbered routes such as 165 and 265, in the Branson area, runs north and south. Even numbered routes such as 76, 248 and 376 run east and west. A quick look at the incorporated Branson Map, click to enlarge, verifies this fact and shows that the major north-south route through Branson is Highway 65 and Branson’s major east-west route is Route 76. East from that junction leads to Historic Downtown Branson, Lake Taneycomo, Branson Landing and the Branson Convention Center. West leads to the famous Branson Strip, located on Route 76, Branson’s major attractions such as the Titanic Museum Attraction, Tanger Mall, White Water and, farther west, Shepherd of the Hills and Silver Dollar City.

Branson’s system of alternate colored routes also helps make it easy to find where you want to go and how to get there. There are three, Blue, Red and Yellow. It can be generally said that they are overlaid on existing routes and roads and parallel Route 76, running east and west, with the Yellow Route doing so to the south of Highway 76 and the Blue and Red to the north. “A little time spent familiarizing oneself with these colored routes can go a long way toward making travel around Branson more efficient, minimizing involvement with traffic congestion and ‘timely arrivals,’” Johnson added.

The Yellow Route provides access to lodging and shows located on Fall Creek Road, Wildwood Drive and Green Mountain Road and an entry into shows such as Legends in Concert, Bretts, , Dixie Stampede, Andy Williams Moon River Theatre, Jim Stafford, Duttons, George Dyer and others. Arterial streets provide access to theatres such as Clay Cooper, SIX, Mickey Gilley, it at the Hughes Brothers Theatre and others along with Tanger Mall and White Water.

The northern most colored route is the Red Route which intersects with Highway 65 at its State Route 248” or “Shepherd of the Hills Expressway” exit. The eastern terminus of the Red Route is the junction of Route 76 and Business Highway 65 in Historic Downtown Branson with its western terminus being the junctions of Route 76, Shepherd of the Hills Expressway and Route 376 and at the RFD TV  Theatre home of the Haygoods.

At its eastern end, among other things, the Red Route provides access to Branson Landing, Main Street Marina, Main Street Lake Cruises, Historic Downtown Branson with Dicks 5 & 10 and much more, Lake Taneycomo, the city of Branson’s Lakside RV Park and Scotty’s Trout Dock. As one travels west on the Red Route from its junction with Highway 65 on Route 248/Shepherd of the Hills Expressway they will pass way the Mansion Theatre, Sight and Sound Theatre with its spectacular production Joseph, Pierce ArrowHamner Barber Variety Show, Shoji Tabuchi and the IMAX Complex with its great shopping, Elite III movie theatres, giant screen IMAX theatre, the Little Opry Theatre.

The Blue Route starts from its eastern end at the intersection of Highway 76 and Roark Valley Road and runs west, paralleling Branson’s Strip to its north, until it ends at the intersection of Route 76 and Gretna Road right at Branson’s largest museum attraction, The Titanic Museum Attraction and kitty-corner from the Clay Cooper Theatre. It runs past the White House Theatre with its spectacular Legends of Kung Fu show and, by arterial roads, providing direct access to the Tanger Mall, Starlite Theatre the Hollywood Wax Museum and other strip attractions.

For additional information on Branson’s colored routes, getting around Branson or any of Branson’s shows, attractions and activities or for lodging arrangements please feel free contact the Branson Tourism Center (BTC by calling their toll free number 1-800-785-1550.