Category Archives: Branson Shows

Incredible show celebrates Acrobats of China 16th year in Branson

 

This rolling pyramid is as dangerous as it is beautiful.

This rolling pyramid is as dangerous as it is beautiful.

When Mr Lizhi Zhao, the CEO and Owner of the Acrobats of China, first brought the show to Branson 16 years ago it seemed like a strange fit, music shows, primarily country at the time, and a Chinese Acrobatic show. The years have shown however, that Branson audiences appreciate the skill, grace, uniqueness and quality of the show as it celebrates its 16th year in Branson at a new venue, the “RFD-TV Theatre,” with an entirely new troupe of performers, the award winning Jinan Troupe, who premiered for the first time in Branson on June 30.

Lovely Fish, Director of Sales for the show said, “While we’ve enjoyed other acrobatic troupes through the years, this is hands down the best we’ve seen yet!” After seeing the premier Branson performance of Jinan Troupe it’s easy to see why she feels that way and why they are considered to be one of the most skilled and highly awarded Chinese Acrobatic Troupes. Their performance was nothing short of incredible.

This from a man who has been seeing this show for about 12 of its 16 years in Branson. From the high energy, colorful and spirited opening to its curtain call, its 16 acts left me sitting in awe at the beauty, grace, talent, strength and daring I had just witnessed. And if that’s all there was that would have been enough, but it is all presented in a beautiful choreographed production that includes extremely colorful costuming, music, dance and theatrics for each act as the show smoothly transition from one act to the next.

The show truly has something for everyone, but the really neat thing is that the vast majority of it will appeal to the whole family. The Wright family’s comments after seeing the show illustrate this point. Mr. Wright said the show was, “Fantastic,” that his favorite acts were the “strength act” with the guy on the pole [The Human Flag Pole] and the Chair Stacking act and he would absolutely recommend the show for families. Their 12 year old son said that he enjoyed “everything,” his favorite act was when they were jumping through the rings [Hoop Jumping] and believes that other kids his age would enjoy the show as much as he did.

I would echo Mr. Wright’s sentiments. It is a fantastic show that will appeal to the whole family because of its color, energy, daring, skill and variety. Covering everything from juggling with machetes to a fantastic synchronized performance with the Diabolo, Chinese yoyo, to Multi Bowl Tossing from High Unicycles, Hoop Diving, Cycling and more; this show is one incredible entertainment experience.

Acrobat somersaulting through loop as the same time the one twirling it is jumping in and out of the loop.

Acrobat somersaulting through loop at the same time the one twirling it is jumping in and out of the loop.

My favorite three acts would be the “Human Flag Pole,” “Poles and Ropes” and the “Cycling” acts. Formally called, “Handstand on a Pole,” it is what some have described as the “Human Flag Pole ” because, at one point, the acrobat is perfectly perpendicular to the pole, held in a flag like position with only his two arms, skill and strength holding on to the pole. His display of grace and strength as he moves through intricate movements in slow motion being held up by just his arms was an audience favorite, is absolutely incredible and like nothing I have ever seen.

“Poles and Ropes,” is an exciting example of what these superb acrobats can do when their acrobatic and athletic skills are combined with their rope twirling It’s absolutely incredible and again, something I have never seen before. Oh yes, I have seen rope twirlers, but nothing like this. Most of us have seen someone twirl a rope and jump in an out, but until last night I never saw someone twirl and rope and as he was jumping in and out a guy comes out of nowhere, ok so he came from somewhere, and did a somersault through the same loop while he was doing it.

The “Synchronized Cycling” act involved six or more of the female acrobats performing a synchronized act on bicycles that was as beautiful and graceful as it was dangerous. The pyramid of nine girls as the base of four bicycles kept moving was amazing and this incredible act was topped off by “How many acrobats going around on one bicycle?”

There was no aerial silk act because they were in the process of installing the rigging, but when it is up it will make an incredible show even more so. If you want to see something unique, exciting, colorful, that the whole family will enjoy and in a class by itself, even among Chinese acrobatic shows, then you don’t want to miss these championship acrobats perform in this incredible production.

For additional information or tickets for the Acrobats of China 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

 

 

 

Five Branson show reviews from recent Branson showgoers

Hamners' Unbelievable Variety Show .

Hamners’ Unbelievable Variety Show .

Many, including myself, write reviews, articles and posts about Branson shows, but for a current inside look at Branson shows from those who have an insider’s view because they have seen the shows recently, and for that matter everything else “Branson,” along with information and feedback, from locals and visitors alike, it’s hard to beat the Forums of 1Branson.Com, Branson’s biggest message board. Specifically, be they abbreviated or extensive, the show reviews in its Show Forum provide a unique perspective and freshness.

The following reviews recently posted in the “Show Forum, are listed alphabetically and followed by the name of the poster and date posted in italics:

AYO staring Voices of Glory – Went to see AYO again last night. If you want a show that will touch your heart, AYO is it. If you want a fast paced show, AYO is it. If you want to see talented performers, AYO is it. The boys are very talented & excellent singers. Nadia, was voted young entertainer of the year. Branson has a lot of very good female vocalists. I’m not going to say, she’s the best, but I wouldn’t argue with anyone who said she was. She certainly is right at the top of the list. As far as being the best female entertainer, in totality, in my opinion, she is the total package & the best in Branson. I feel confident, in saying, put AYO (Voices of Glory) on your must see list, you won’t be sorry. Helppitch, June 21, 2014

Acrobats of ChinaYesterday we attended the Amazing Acrobats of China, and they were amazing. We’d never been to this one before and wanted to try it out. We weren’t disappointed and found the culture lesson that was included with the performance very interesting. How those young people accomplish all that balancing in those various situations is beyond me. Branson Junkie, June 24, 2014

Dublin’s Irish Tenors and Celtic Ladies – We have seen both the “12 Irish Tenors” and “Dublin’s Irish Tenors and Celtic Ladies”…some of the same guys that were in the 12 Irish Tenors are also in the new show. They do many of the same songs in the new show that they did in the old one…The 4 girls in the new show are very good, and bring a good variety of songs… Wait until you hear one of them do Nessun Dorma…I had never heard that sung by a woman until this show, but she does a fabulous job! All that to say, this is a good show and I’m sure you would enjoy it. Lots of energy, lots of variety, the guys and girls do some numbers together and seem to have a good time working with each other. Try it out. thesaint, June 17

Grand JubileeJust returned from our Saturday night show – Grand Jubilee.  WOW!  WOW!  WOW!  New South quartet is excellent, Jackie Brown is excellent, the Grand Band is excellent, Mike Patrick is excellent and Jim Dandy is so multi-talented it’s amazing. Branson Junkie, June 21, 2014

Hamners’ Unbelievable Variety Show – Really, REALLY dug the new show and format… While I always found Jim entertaining, his set hadn’t changed too much throughout the past few years… With the new show, a true Variety show in every sense of the word, it looks like Dave Hamner has been reinvigorated and it shows on stage… Really fun show with just about everything you’d expect to see in a great show… Highly recommend it. Writingfool, June 13, 2014

Want funny in Branson? Here’s five of its funniest comedians

Gary Presley, "Herkimer" with son Erik, "Cecil" in one of their hilarious skits.

Gary Presley, “Herkimer” with son Erik, “Cecil” in one of their hilarious skits.

BRANSON, Mo., June 27, 2014 – Offering shows as diverse as the Acrobats of China to Jonah, Mickey Gilley, the Haygoods and Presleys’ Country Jubilee, Branson’s reputation for the variety, quantity and quality of its shows is unmatched by travel destinations anywhere near its size. Primarily known for its music shows covering just about every musical genre, Branson also offers some of the most unique, funny and family friendly comedy available anywhere.

Comedy has been a major part of the Branson shows ever since the Baldknobbers “started it all” with its mixture of music and comedy. Here is an overview of five of Branson’s best comedians from four of its most popular shows:

1. Gary Presley of Presleys’ Country Jubilee has been entertaining Branson audiences ever since the Presleys’ opened the first theatre on what is now known as “The Branson Strip” in 1967 with its mixture of music and comedy. Known on stage as “Herkimer,” Gary is the consummate master of his craft, and with a combination of his unique style of humor and “Ozark hillbilly” costume has been making Branson audiences laugh longer than any other comedian on the Branson strip. Along with his son Erik, Presley “,Cecil” on stage, and a combination of comedy skits, one liners, jokes on current events and other common topics, action routines, some great props, and special effects, this creative comedy duo keeps audiences of all ages laughing and wondering about what’s coming next.

Jamie Haage, "Jim Dandy," and Mike Patrick.

Jamie Haage, “Jim Dandy,” and Mike Patrick.

2. Paul Harris, the comedian in Paul Harris & The Cleverlys Show, has been having Branson audiences “busting their guts” laughing for over 20 years. Paul’s style is standup comedy and boy is he ever funny. Where else will you find out why it’s not a great idea to go swimming with a Sperm Whale? His comedy has that good old boy comfort of Jeff Foxworthy, turns almost anything worth talking about into an occasion of laughter and while “‘cutting edge’ he always walks the line and keeps his show clean.”

3. Jarrett Dougherty, currently performing with the Billy Dean Live Show, is another very funny man who will have you laughing from the beginning to the end of the show with his comedy. His comedy is most often presented through the various “characters” he becomes and often involves a straight man. It will have you laughing and sitting on the edge of your seat wondering what he is going to come up with next, but one thing is for sure, this is one funny guy.

4. The multitalented Jamie Haage does a hilariously funny job of playing “Jim Dandy” and providing the comedy in the Grand Jubilee show. You’ve heard of “dark comedy,” well welcome to “orange comedy,” where, strategically placed throughout the show, Jim Dandy, along with his straight man, the shows Emcee Mike Patrick, will have you laughing until you hurt with a blend of comedy and one liners.

For additional information or tickets on the shows mentioned in the article please feel free to 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.

Did you know this about Branson’s “Dublin’s Irish Tenors and The Celtic Ladies?”

"Celtic Ladies" performing "Moon River" tribute to Andy Williams.

“Celtic Ladies” performing “Moon River” tribute to Andy Williams.

As a big fan of the “Twelve Irish Tenors,” it was with some trepidation that I attended the show that has replaced it at the Kings Castle Theatre in Branson, Dublin’s Irish Tenors and The Celtic Ladies on June11th. It didn’t take but two notes, ok so maybe it was a bar or two, of the “Celtic Ladies” beautiful show opening performance of “Danny Boy” to put my mind at ease and let me know that the tradition of beautiful and powerful Irish and, I was soon to find out, “Celtic” music, was not only alive and well at the Kings Castle, but evolving into a new and even more entertaining show establishing its own unique tradition and standard of entertainment excellence.

By the time they had finished their first set including “Scarborough Fair,” an acapella performance of “Loch Lomand” and the “Sky Boat Song” and Maggie Moore’s beautiful solo of “O Mio Babbino Caro” I was thinking “12 Irish Who?” Just kidding, but the performance of “Celtic Ladies,” Maggie Moore, Kelly Osbourne, Heather Peterson and Sarah Tochtrop was a wonderful way to start the show and set the bar, in terms of audience expectation, for what was to follow.

Dublins Irish Tenors

Dublins Irish Tenors

Not to be outdone, the “Dublin Irish enors,” Tony Turner, Robert Quibell, Jay MacManus, Alex Webster and Chism Ruden, opened their first set. They started with, among others, an inspirational performance of “You Raised Me Up,” a medley of Irish Songs including “Irish Eyes Are Smiling,” “Sweet Rosie O Grady, “McNamara’s Band and “Too-Ra-Loo-Ra-Loo-Ral” and Elton Johns “Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word.”

Each of these vocalists, in their own right, is impressive, but when combined with the others in their group and with both groups together the result is a beautiful, powerful and unique vocal performance that is not available on any other Branson stage. Their presentation of the shows unique blend of Celtic music mixed with just the right amount of current contemporary and classical favorites is a joy to experience and will be enjoyed by “music lovers of all ages.” Add great lighting effects, sound, sets, costuming and choreography surprises with virtually every number and the result is a completely wonderful, entertaining and inspiring entertainment experience.

Will children enjoy this show? There are no animals, peer performances by other children or segments specifically designed for children, but when combined with its sets, costuming and dancing, children who have an appreciation of or simply enjoy music will like this show. [An aside, for a show that will “knock the socks off adults” as well as children don’t miss Le Grand Cirque also at the Kings Castle Theatre.]

In a show packed with some of the most touching and beautiful music of all time, presented by singers with such talent and energy, there are many highlights .From those, three of my favorites were the Celtic Ladies performance of the show’s opening number, “Danny Boy,” the opening Irish medley by the Dublin Tenors and their combined performances of “I Believe” and, my all-time favorite song, “You’ll Never Walk Alone.” My absolute favorite however, was Maggie Moore’s magnificent performance of “Nessun Dorma” from Puccini’s opera “Turandot.” What a beautiful job!

For additional information or tickets for Dublin’s Irish Tenors and The Celtic Ladies or 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

 

Recent Branson show goers really dig Hamners’ Unbelievable Variety Show

Earlier this year I wrote a “review” of what at the time was Branson’s newest show, Hamners’ Unbelievable Variety show entitled,Hamners’ Unbelievable Variety Show Is “Unbelievably” Entertaining.

Dave and Denise Hamner with one of their magical winged friends.

Dave and Denise Hamner with one of their magical winged friends.

In that review I said, “From great illusions and close up magic, presented by two of the world’s finest magicians, to high flying “silk” acrobatics, an amazing strength adagio act, comedy, musical impersonations, vocals, dancing and ventriloquism the scope and variety of this show is, well, “Unbelievable.'”

This week [June 14], a series of posts were made to the “Show Forum,” on Branson’s biggest message board, www.1Branson.Com about the show by those who have seen the show more recently. In view of the fact that this is the time of the year when many families with children come to Branson we thought it timely to share these more recent personal reviews. As indicated in the following excerpts from the posts, prefaced with the name of the poster in bold, they too were impressed with the show and recommend it:

Writingfool: Really, REALLY dug the new show and format…With the new show, a true Variety show in every sense of the word. Really fun show with just about everything you’d expect to see in a great show… Highly recommend it

Helppitch: …they have put together a very nice show. A couple nice Russian dancers/acrobats, also a very good/funny ventriloquist, plus Tamra & Jeff & the Hamners with their birds.

Leftsaidted: Yes! Saw it just a week or so ago. The show has been good in the past, but this year is MUCH better! The Russian father/daughter team are outstanding. She is amazing when performing even by herself. The female ventriloquist is very, very funny. The illusion/magic acts are also very well done, some new ones…this year. Put it on your MUST SEE for 2014.

Particularly, at this time of year when a lot of families are coming to Branson I would point out the area in our previous review where I said, “To this writer, one of the most ‘Unbelievable’ aspects of this show is the way the individual talents of its cast are combined into a production that is as equally entertaining to adults of all ages as it is to teens and younger children throughout its entire length. All of Branson’s shows are ‘family friendly’ in terms of their content, some are designed primarily for kids and others for adults, but very few to entertain adults and kids together for the majority of the show; Hamners’ Unbelievable Variety Show is one of those shows.

Material Connection

Four things to consider when picking a Branson show for children

Children love "Jonah." It has it all action, color, spectacle, peer performers and an ageless story.

Children love “Jonah.” It has it all action, color, spectacle, peer performers and an ageless story.

“One question we get asked quite often, especially at this time of year with many of families vacationing in Branson, is ‘What are the best shows for children?'” said Tammy Johnson, the Director of Operations for the Branson Tourism Center. “All of Branson’s shows, in terms of content, are suitable for children but ‘what is best’ for a particular child depends on their age, attention span, interests and other factors,” she added.

Based on my experience with Branson shows over the last 28 years, Johnson’s advice is right on. She’s in an excellent position to know because the Branson Tourism Center will sell its four millionth ticket this month and many of those tickets were sold to families with children. Ask most Branson shows and they will tell you that there is something in their show “for children of every age.” That might very well be true for a short portion of the show, but some shows, more than others are more likely to hold the interests of children throughout more of the show than others. Realizing that these may overlap, here’s three things to consider when considering a Branson show for children:

1. Does the show have a lot of action or animals throughout that will appeal to your children? Most children like action and variety throughout the show. Some shows have a lot of action and variety that naturally and obviously appeals to children such as the Acrobats of China, Amazing Pets, Hamners’ Unbelievable Variety ShowLe Grand Cirque, Dixie Stampede, Chris Perondi’s Stunt Dog Experience, Illusionist Rick Thomas and Jonah among others.

2. Does the show have performers in it that your children will relate to on a peer to peer basis? This one is tricky because it’s not just a matter of having children performing; it’s about the quality of their performance and how it relates to the total entertainment experience of everyone in the audience because these shows, although designed to hold the interests of children throughout with key peer to peer performances, are primarily music shows. Some do it with a mixture of performers going from their star parents to younger children; prime examples of this type of show would be the Duttons, Clay Cooper’s Country Express, and it at the Hughes Brothers Theatre. In others, such as the Haygoods and Ayo staring the Voices of Glory, the stars themselves are the peer to peer performers that children, particularly teenagers, will relate to.

3. Does the show have enough color, spectacle, or action to hold your child’s interest throughout the show? Is there enough color, spectacle and action intermixed throughout the show, whether intended specifically for children or not, to hold their interest? Presleys’ Country Jubilee is an excellent example of this type of show where their colorful costumes and the hilarious action filled comedy of “Herkimer” and his son “Cecil” combine with outstanding music into a show that has been successfully and continuously entertaining families visiting Branson since 1967.

4. Does the child have the attention span to sit through the show? This is primarily age related and something only the parent or adult thinking of taking a child to a show would know. If after considering the three factors listed above the answer is, “No,” then it might be advisable to spend the time and money enjoying one of Branson’s many other activities such as the Titanic Museum Attraction, a sightseeing cruise aboard the river boat replica Lake Queen, the Shepherd of the Hills Trout Hatchery or any one of the dozens of other Branson Attractions.

Amazing Le Grand Cirque will leave you breathless

The "Wheel of Death" will have you sitting on the edge of your seat.

The most daring stunt ever performed on a Branson stage. The “Wheel of Death” will have you sitting on the edge of your seat.

Over the past 28 years I have seen just about every “Cirque” type of show that has come to Branson. On May 31st I saw Le Grand Cirque, the most exciting, amazing, entertaining and daring cirque show that I have ever seen in Branson. In fact, I have never seen a show in Branson that combines music, dancing, comedy, amazing acrobatics and extreme stunts into a “sit on the edge of your seat excitement” entertainment experience like “Le Grand Cirque” does.

The full cast opening featuring dancing and music performed by colorfully dressed “clowns” is a fast paced number filled with neat acrobatics and moves that blends into one of best “hula hoop” acts I have ever seen. Young Noemi Lee España does amazing things with hula hoops that I have never seen before. Oh I have seen plenty of hula hoop acts and people twirl ten hoops before but I have never seen a hula hoop act like this and it’s just the first act.

For reasons that will be explained in a moment, this is as good a time as any to point out the cast of the show and what they do:

Vivien España – Aerialist, Hoop, Trapeze and Chiffon
Noemi Lee España – Hula Hoops, Contortionist, Aerial Chiffon
Elan Alex España – Diabolo Juggler, Chair Balancing
Noe España – Wheel of Death Walker and Globe of Death motorcycle rider
Felix Angello Toscano Hernandez – Globe of Death motorcycle rider
dilson De Paula Fernandes – Wheel of Death Walker
Mime – Jay McManus

Noemi during her amazing Hula Hoop performance.

Noemi during her amazing Hula Hoop performance.

You will note that the name “”España” appears quite a bit. It’s amazing that all this talent is one family. In addition to the talent, the different acts performed by different family member from “mom and dad” down to the kids relates so well to the audience, especially the children. How well? This comment from a review of this show by “zrahnoelle” on May 28 on Branson’s largest message board, “1Branson.com” said, “We saw La Grand Cirque at Kings Castle Theatre last night. Ages 7 to 67 and we all loved it! Several very dangerous acts had us on the edge of our seats and my 11 year old said she was so scared they would fall that her tummy hurt!” In my opinion this is one of very few Branson shows that will entertain children and adults simultaneously from the beginning to the end of the show.

There is just the right mixture of audience interaction and humor with the Mime mixed with music and dancing as the show swiftly and seamlessly moves from one act to another in a colorful and entertaining manner. One example is with the introduction to the aerial hoop act when a box appears on the stage and colorfully dressed characters come out until Vivien España  comes out of the box and rises gracefully into the air to perform her beautiful Aerial Hoop act. The “Black Light” routine leading into the “Wheel of Death” is another example.

The “Wheel of Death” is one of the most extreme stunts I have ever seen performed on any stage, Branson or anywhere else. Noe España and dilson De Paula Fernandes each walk in a “wheel” at one end of a pendulum that is swinging the two wheels in a full 360 degree circle that goes from the stage to the top of the theatre over 30 feet in the air. It scary enough when both of them are walking inside the two wheels as the pendulum speeds up, but it approaches insanity when one of them gets on top of the revolving wheel and performs. What an act and we haven’t mentioned the two motorcyclists performing in the “Globe of Death” as they zoom around not only each other, but, Noemi Lee España standing inside the “Globe.”

Even acts you have seen before take on new life and excitement in this show. Young Elan Alex España performs with the Diabolo “Chinese YoYo.) What he does with one is amazing, but when he goes to two and three he knocks it out of the park. From music, colorful costuming, excitement, grace beauty and danger, L”e Grand Cirque “has it all and is truly “Amazing Beyond Belief.”

For additional information or tickets for Le Grand Cirque please call the Branson Tourism Center by calling 1-800-785-1550 or through its website, www.BransonTourismCenter.com.

 

Material Connection

 

 

No Pun, Jonah’s one whale of a show!

"Jonah brings  biblical story of "Jonah" to life in   a "whale" of an entertainment experience.

“Jonah brings biblical story of God’s reluctant prophet  to life in a “whale” of an entertainment experience.

Living in Branson for 28 years and writing about it for most of those years has put me in a position to see all of the spectacular Sight and Sound Branson shows, “Noah, the Musical,” “Miracle of Christmas,” and “Joseph.” When I went to see their new Branson production, Jonah, on May 29 I expected to see a show with great music, vocals, spectacular sets and costuming presented as only Sight and Sound can do it. Well folks I got that and a “whale” of a lot more. OK so it was a “big fish,” but I like the term “whale” that is commonly used when people talk about the biblical story of “Jonah.”

As great as the special effects and scenery have been in their other productions, the special effects and scenery in Jonah are just about unbelievable. The action scenes of the ship breaking up; Jonah flying through the air, particularly as he departs the belly of the whale; the set of Jonah in the belly of the whale and the underwater scene with the great whale are simply magnificent and something no one has ever come close to seeing on a Branson stage.

30,000 pound ship "sails" the stage and breaks up during the storm.

30,000 pound ship “sails” the stage and breaks up during the storm.

The ship alone took two years to build, weighs 30,000 pounds, sails “the seas on the stage” with its crew and starts to breaks up right before your eyes as the storm plummets it about. Then, after, they throw Jonah overboard, the storm abates and the stars again sparkle in the background. Meanwhile Jonah sinks into the depth of the sea setting the stage for the visual highlight of Jonah, the underwater segment with the great whale.

The audience is immersed, in a literal sense, in a spectacular underwater environment as beautiful fish swim about, Jelly Fish come down from the ceilings and the great whale comes out of the darkness and swims slowly and gracefully out over the audience through a beautiful underwater world and then, returns to swallow Jonah. Parents need not worry, the actual swallowing of Jonah by the whale is not seen. One minute the whale is swimming toward him and the next, there is a set with Jonah in the belly of the whale. Jonah’s exit from the belly of the whale was a “high flying” experience that delighted the audience.

As a general rule, with Sight and Sound shows you want to be in your seats when the show starts and immediately after intermission. If you are not, there is a chance you will not be admitted into the auditorium until it can be done safely because of the fact that animals and cast members use the aisles. This is particularly the case right after intermission when the big underwater scene takes place.

This show has it all, drama; original music produced specifically for Jonah and performed by Prague Symphony Orchestra; great vocals sung live on stage by the shows cast; 30 live animals including sheep, highlander cattle, camels, alpacas, horses, llamas, dogs, birds and miniature donkeys, and great sound, special effects, lighting and spectacular sets. The energy and talent of the shows cast of 41 performers brings the story of “Jonah,” and how he tried to run from what he knew God wanted him to do, to life in a very special and entertaining way.

It’s hard to imagine a show with a greater appeal and spectacle than Jonah as it brings to life and illustrates one of the greatest biblical stories of all time about the lesson one of God’s own prophets had to learn about His mercy and love for us, even as he tried to run from it. The magnificent and spectacular way the story comes to life in Jonah is unlike anything that most people will every experience live on stage, a pure joy to experience and something is that special type of entertainment that every member of the family will enjoy and remember for a lifetime.

 

 

Material Connection

Is the 2014 Shoji Tabuchi show the best ever?

Christina Tabuchi, right, Shoji Tabuchi and Sharlyn Smith performing during the "Dixieland "segment of the show.

Christina Tabuchi, right, Shoji Tabuchi and Sharlyn Smith performing during the “Dixieland “segment of the show.

 

“Is that Shoji Tabuchi playing Led Zeppelin’s ‘Kashmir?'” It absolutely is and to kick off his 2014 show no less! Performing for his 26th season in Branson, Shoji’s 2014 show just might be his best show ever and clearly demonstrates why he, and his show, have not only remained one of Branson’s premier entertainment experiences for so long, but are poised to continue that tradition well into the future.

I have seen dozens of great Shoji Tabuchi shows over the last 28 years great, but the one I saw on May 21st is like no other. All the hallmarks that the Shoji Tabuchi show is known for, its wide range of music; great dancing, singing and an orchestra filled with extremely talented multi instrumental musicians; colorful costuming, lighting, lasers, exciting and varied sets along with a seamless flow from one segment to another, are there in force. Although certainly an intangible it is the way that it all seems to come together, with an infectious charismatic blend of energy, excitement and the ability of the cast to convey the feeling to the audience that they are just having fun, that makes this year’s show so special.

One lady, speaking of Shoji’s playing said, “It’s not just that he is playing music that brings back some great memories, but the way he plays them just makes them so much more special.” If I were going to pick three of my favorites that Shoji played, from among many, illustrating that point I would pick “Love Me Tender,” “How Great Thou Art,” and “Through The Eyes of Love.” Whether it’s the violin or the fiddle, “Kashmir” or his “patented” version of the “Orange Blossom” there is something special and magic when Shoji plays.

The singer/dancers with Shoji and Christina during a stirring gospel number.

The singer/dancers with Shoji and Christina during a stirring gospel number.

The singer/dancers are multi-talented and add and exciting dynamic to the show not only with their singing and dancing, but in other areas. The opening of the second half with the Taiko drums, from Shoji’s native Japan is but one example, as ten drummers play three different drums including the large “Odaiko” in a unique one of a kind performance. As part of the segment Shoji plays the “Shamisen,” a three string instrument that is the Japanese equivalent of the banjo and does a duet of, what I believe was “Sukiyaki,” with his daughter Christina. Sharlyn Smith, one of the singer/dancers plays the mandolin during a beautiful bluegrass duet with Shoji.

The lead female vocalist for the show is the talented Christina Lingo Tabuchi, who is also the co dance captain and Shoji’s daughter. She does an excellent job performing a variety of original and cover vocals throughout the show. My favorites were her version of “”Boondocks” and an original song she recorded in Nashville, “Breaking It Down.”

Shoji’s ability to relate to his audience, whether playing, telling the story of how he came to be an American citizen, got his “southern accent” or anyone of a variety of other anecdotes sprinkled throughout the show is an inherent part of the whole experience. As I wrote last year and will again reiterate, “Simply put, Shoji Tabuchi is a master at his craft, loves what he does, relates to his audience not only on a musical, but personal level, surrounds himself with some of the best musicians, singers and dancers in Branson and stars in a unique, colorful and exciting one of kind entertainment production.” I would add one thing for this year’s show, hold on to your seat from the moment the curtain does up because this year it’s on steroids!

For more information or tickets for the Shoji Tabuchi Show 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

 

Material Connection

Why SIX human voices are the hottest show in Branson

SIX, Owen, left , Kevin, Jak, Lynn, Curtis, and Barry during the gospel segment of the show.

SIX, Owen, left , Kevin, Jak, Lynn, Curtis, and Barry during the gospel segment of the show.

As many times as I have seen the amazing show SIX, I find myself looking for the band that is not there. This, even though I know that every sound I hear comes from the six human voices of siblings, Barry, Kevin, Owen, Lynn, Curtis and Jak Knudsen who make up the entire cast of one of Branson’s hottest shows, SIX. It was no different on the afternoon of May 20th, 2014 as I experienced the vocal magic of SIX performing their 2014 Branson show.

If you have never seen the show it’s hard to describe because it’s much more than a vocal band. It is a total entertainment experience consisting of great vocals covering a wide variety of music from the 60s to the present performed by an amazing “band” consisting of the same performers singing the vocals and doing the comedy. Their energy, familial harmonies and humor, coupled with the vocal band aspect of their show results in an an awesome entertainment experience that is certainly unique in Branson if not in all the world.

From the time the curtain goes up to the last number one or more, in most cases more, of SIX is on the stage entertaining. That might not seem remarkable, but when one considers that whether it’s a drum beating, a beautiful vocal or the brothers telling stories and providing a warm wonderful comedic element to the show, it is just the six of them and they do it virtually non-stop, except for intermission, for two hours.

It’s not just what they do, but how they do it. As demonstrated numerous times during the show by, among others, the performance of “Stand By Me” by Curtis; Coldplay’s “Fix You,” featuring Owen or Lynn featured in the song “Love Times Ten,” each has been blessed with a remarkable vocal talent. When that individual talent blends together in numbers such as “People of the World,” “America” and the gospel segment, the power and familial harmony is, simply put, “A joy to hear.” 

Owen, is the "drum" in the band as well as an accomplished vocalist.

Owen, is the “drum” in the band as well as an accomplished vocalist.

One minute Owen is “a drum” doing “Wipe out” and the next he is performing a beautiful rendition of “Fix You” and that’s just one of “six. “Multiply that talent and versatility by six and you begin to get an idea of just how unique and special this show is.

The comedy, mostly provided by Jak interacting with the audience or one of his brothers is funny and comfortable because much of it relates back to them. Like the vocals, that familial element takes something that is already funny and makes it a unique and special part of the total SIX entertainment experience. A perfect example is Jak and Barry, with the musical backup of the rest of the group in the “Mr. Hollywood,” segment. From the comedy to the vocals, in total, it is a vintage SIX “moment.”

From songs as varied as “The Lion Sleeps Tonight and “Pretty Woman” to “Fix You,” “Viva Las Vegas” and many more the shows choice of music will have something for just about every musical taste. Its Veterans segment with Kevin featured in “I’m An American Soldier” and their performance of “America;” their performance of “Love Times Ten,” dedicated to their mother who died all too early from Cancer and the show gospel segment are as inspirational and touching as they were powerfully and beautifully performed.

The lighting, sound and interactive use of the giant screen on the back of the stage as well as the side monitors all added significantly to the enjoyment of the show. SIX is one of the most popular shows in Branson and, to this writer, the unique, powerful high energy performance he saw today is the reason why.

For additional information or tickets for SIX 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 .