Category Archives: Branson Shows

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, “” 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,


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,


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, .


Five Reasons to spend Memorial Day Weekend in Branson

Silver Dollar City's iconic world class coaster "Wildfire."

Silver Dollar City’s iconic world class coaster “Wildfire.”

“Summer doesn’t officially start until June 21st, but in terms of Branson’s Summer Season it starts over Memorial Day Weekend,” said Tammy Johnson, the Director of Operations for the Branson Tourism Center (BTC). “Memorial Day Weekend in Branson features the unique blend of natural beauty, live entertainment, lakes, attractions, shopping, Ozarks heritage, and other exciting activities that earned Branson a place in the top 25 destinations in America in the ‘2013 TripAdvisors Annual Traveler’s Choice Destination Awards‘ and makes it the ideal place for families to have fun together, relax, and make memories that will last for a lifetime,” she added.

Here’s five great reasons to spend Memorial Day Weekend in Branson, four of which are great reasons to spend your vacation in Branson anytime:

1. Pristine Lakes: With three different lakes, and thousands of miles of shoreline along Table Rock Lake, Bull Shoals Lake and Lake Taneycomo, Branson is a virtual aquatic paradise offering boating, swimming and a wide range of other aquatic activities along with some of the finest bass and trout fishing anywhere.

Whether one enjoys the lakes from a sandy beach like “Moonshine Beach,” located just minutes from the famed Branson Strip; walking along the Branson Landing Boardwalk; hiking one of many lakes trails, by boat, canoe or kayak or while cruising aboard one of the cruise boats such the Showboat Branson Belle on Table Rock Lake or the Lake Queen or Landing Princess on Lake Taneycomo, there are many opportunities to experience the beauty and relaxation of Branson’s lakes.


Branson's Titanic Museum Attraction takes passengers on an exciting "voyage."

Branson’s Titanic Museum Attraction takes passengers on an exciting “voyage.”

2. Attractions and Activities: It is doubtful that there is a travel destination anywhere near its size that has the variety of attractions and activities that Branson has. Two million gallons of cool wet fun await visitors to southwest Missouri’s biggest water park, the Polynesian themed White Water, with its 13 acres, 7,200 feet of water slides and its new $1.7 million thrill ride “KaPau Plummet.” Its two 240-foot slides each launches riders from a drop-floor four stories in the air into a 70-degree plunge followed by a spiraling loop to the bottom. When you add in the iconic seven story multiple slide “Kalani Towers;” “Aloha River at Hula Bay,” with over 800 feet of “unexpected twists and turns, fountains, misters, bubblers, geysers, a 30-foot tall Tiki water tower and more,” it’s easy to understand why White Water is called “Mid-America’s Nearby Island Adventure.”

And that’s just one of Branson’s many attractions! From butterflies to tigers, world class coasters to cruises, sea turtles to sharks, championship golf courses to mini golf, zip lines to hiking, go-karts  and so much more, Branson has an unbelievable choice of activities offering fun and adventure for the whole family. These include the 1880’s styled international award winning theme park, Silver Dollar City, with its dozens of rides, shows, and craftsmen which will be celebrating its “Bluegrass and BBQ Festival” during the Labor Day weekend; the Titanic Museum Attraction; the National Tiger Sanctuary; the Butterfly Palace & Rainforest Adventure and many more.


Dean Z, as Elvis, performing during performance of Legends in Concert.

Dean Z, as Elvis, performing  Legends in Concert.

3. Live Entertainment and Shows: Branson is known worldwide for the quality, quantity and variety of its live entertainment. From shows as diversified as the Acrobats of China, Jonah and Amazing Pets to Branson paradigm shows like Presleys’ Country Jubilee and Grand Jubilee as well as an incredible variety of top quality shows such as Shoji Tabuchi, SIX, Legends in Concert and dozens more Branson offers an unrivaled choice of live entertainment options.

4. Shopping: Memorial Day and year around, Branson offers a unique world class shopping experience. Whether it’s an item handcrafted at Silver Dollar City or a unique item from one of Branson’s many specialty shops, malls, Historic Downtown shops, Branson Landing or the hundreds of other stores, Branson offers a choice of shopping that will delight even the most avid shopper. Where else in America can you shop at an old time “5 & 10″ like “Dicks 5 & 10″ in historic downtown Branson and be shopping in a complex like Branson Landing with its 120 shops, restaurants and $7.5 million dollar fire, water, and music “five” minutes later?

5. Fireworks: Memorial Day Weekend’s two major fireworks displays take place on Sunday evening, May 25, at dusk. One display will be at Big Cedar Lodge as part of its Patriotic Picnic and Fireworks event and the other at the Chateau on the Lake as part of its Memorial Day Celebration. The public is invited to both with the best views from Table Rock Lake, the property’s grounds, or in the case of the Chateau on the Lake, the peninsula area located just north of the Table Rock Dam.

Johnson reminds visitors that Memorial Day Weekend is not only the start of Branson’s Summer Season, but one of Branson’s busiest weekends of the year. She suggests advance reservations for shows and lodging to ensure nor only availability, but the best seating and accommodations. For additional information on Branson’s Memorial Day Weekend activities or information or tickets for any of Branson’s shows and attractions or for lodging arrangements please contact the Branson Tourism Center by either calling their toll free number 1-800-785-1550 or through their website


Why families can count on the Duttons for a great entertainment experience


Benjamin, Jessica, Abagail, Jonathan, Amy and Timothy during Finale.

Benjamin, Jessica, Abby, Jonathan, Amy and Timothy during Finale.

As The Duttons Show was drawing to a close on the afternoon of May 14th, I experienced, up close and personal, just how special this show and the family presenting it are as they performed their theme song, “You Can Count On Me.” Don’t know exactly what caused it, but as they performed and each of their families phased into the performance, the reality of the song and what I felt it meant to their commitment to each other and the type and quality of what I had experienced throughout the whole show touched my heart and brought tears to an old man’s eyes.

Like perhaps no other show in Branson, this show is a celebration of family as they share their family, and its considerable talents, with your family in one of the most entertaining family music shows in Branson. This show has been specifically designed, produced and presented, from beginning to end, to be as much fun for every member of the audience as it is for every member of the family that is performing it.

The core of the show, around which this fantastic entertainment experience is built, is the Dutton siblings Abby, Amy, Benjamin, Jonathan and Timothy; Timothy’s wife Judith; drummer Rob Wilson and the considerable instrumental and vocal talents of granddaughter Jessica. The instrumental and vocal talents of this core group alone is absolutely amazing. However, when coupled with performances by other family members, including some of the families 25 other grandchildren, and the artful and professional way they are seamlessly woven into the performances of the core performers, the result is a show that has more simultaneous moments of entertainment in it for every member of the family, adults as well as children, than any other music show in Branson.

The Duttons performing their inspirational and moving rendition of "You Can Count On Me."

The Duttons performing their inspirational and moving rendition of “You Can Count On Me.”

To me that’s an important aspect of this show. I am not aware of a show in Branson that is not suitable for children in terms of their content, but based on my personal experience, I can say that, with few exceptions, the vast majority of Branson’s music shows have not been designed with a consistent flow of material and performers that will appeal to the children in the audience as well as their parents, grandparents and other adults. This simultaneous ability to consistently entertain and appeal to both adults and children, on a peer to peer level, is an inherent magical part of this unique special show.

From its opening number, a full cast performance of “Uncle Penn,” to their finale, “Boil Them Cabbage Down,” it is obvious why the Duttons made it to the top ten on the NBC prime time hit show, “America’s Got Talent.” The talent of the Dutton siblings is the foundation upon which this show is built and what a foundation it is. Whether it’s the fiddle and violin playing of Amy or Abby, the dancing and humor of Benjamin, the playing of Jonathan, the multi-instrumentality and singing of Timothy the keyboard playing and singing of Judith or, as is often the case, a variation or mixture of any of the above, you can count on an experience filled with great music, fun, humor, entertainment and a special warmth.

One of my favorite numbers was “Cotton Eyed Joe.” It was musically performed beautifully; but, as they do so often during the show, it was “Duttonized” with their remarkable instrumental skill, a “black light” segment featuring some of the grandchildren and a demonstration of the superb dancing skill of Benjamin. The result was a unique and exciting performance that was as wonderful and colorful to watch as it was to hear.

This show has one of the most touching and sincere Veterans segments of any show in Branson, a unique dueling performance of the fiddle classic “Orange Blossom Special,” and a classical segment featuring an prelude by Timothy playing an introduction of “Capricho Arabe” on the classical guitar leading into Amy playing a combination of Vivaldi’s “Four Seasons Summer Movement” with a touch of Vitoria Monte’s “Csárdás” that is spectacular. With a show filled with so many highlights, it’s hard to pick a favorite, and I’m sure yours will be different than mine, but here are my two favorites.

I loved the beginning of the second half as Timothy, on the guitar and Amy on the violin started playing “Viva La Vida.” As the number continued more family members were slowly added playing violins then, in a similar manner they withdrew leaving the original two. It was a simple beautiful moment of musical eloquence. Obviously, I also loved their performance of “You Can Count On Me” because, to me, it captures what makes the Duttons so special, their commitment to each other, entertaining their audience and sharing their family with us. Ok, I just have to add a third, I really enjoyed the Polynesian number “Tutuki,” performed by Bella Dutton, Jonathan’s wife, who is from “Soma;” her daughters and Rachel and Jessica. I would be remiss if I did not comment on the excellent job that Jessica Dutton does as she performs with her aunts and uncles. She is an accomplished violinist and, like her younger sister Rachel, is blessed with the vocal talents of her mom and dad, Tim and Judith Dutton. Young Master Timmy Dutton gave an excellent performance of “Danke Shoen.”

Cousin Julio, who looks a lot like Benjamin, trying to "horn" in on Jonathan's number.

Cousin Julio, who looks a lot like Benjamin, trying to “horn” in on Jonathan’s number.

Some who have seen the show, are probably wondering how Cousin Julio is doing. He’s doing fine and showed up trying to “horn” in for an audition for the show after being rejected last year. It was, from both a musical and humorous point of view a “hoot” and this time he got the job; well sort of, but you’ll see what I mean during the second half of the show.

By now you are probably asking, “Is there nothing in this show that was not a highlight?” Not much, not much at all. Previously I wrote, “From rock and roll to blue grass and country this show has a variety of music that has something for everyone. It’s not the shows content alone however, that makes the show so special. It’s how they present it, with that unique Dutton talent, instrumentality, flair, showmanship and innate ability to instill that warm directly ‘from our family’ to ‘you and your family’ feeling in its audience members, that makes this show the unique, special and wonderful Branson entertainment event that it is.” All I can say after seeing their show on May 14, is, “Ditto.”

For tickets or information for The Duttons Show or for any of Branson’s other shows and attractions or for lodging arrangements 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,

Momma Mia, Dancing Queen is fabulous!

The shows four featured vocalists Alex Webster, left, Heather Peterson, Maggie Moore and Tony Turner.

The show’s four featured vocalists Alex Webster, left, Heather Peterson, Maggie Moore and Tony Turner.

While attending the May 6th performance of Dancing Queen Abbas’s Greatest Hits, I picked M.B.F, from San Antonio, Texas at random and asked her what she thought of the show. She comes to Branson just about every year and said, “I loved the show, it’s fabulous.” When asked what she liked best about the show she said, “Everything! The dancing was fabulous, I loved the music, great costuming, high energy and beautiful choreography.” All I can say is, “Ditto, this is one fabulous show.”

The show’s opening number “Dancing Queen,” an all cast number with all the dancers and all four vocalists “sets the bar” in terms of the audience’s expectation of energy, wonderful vocal performances, incredible dancing, beautiful sets and special effects. From beginning to end that bar was never lowered.

Of course Abba fans will be delighted because so many of Abba’s greatest hits such as “Dancing Queen,” “Fernando,” “Take a Chance On Me,” and “Waterloo,” but the show also includes songs the 70’s, disco, Motown and more. As important as the song choices are it is their presentation by the shows four vocalists Heather Peterson, Maggie Moore, Alex Webster and Tony Turner that bring them to life.

Particularly during the first half, the majority of numbers combine two or more of the vocalists singing together, and what a wonderful job they do. From a vocal perspective, my three favorite numbers were the “Dancing Queen,” the trio performance of Alex, Heather, and Maggie featuring Alex in “Funky Music” and Heather’s simply beautiful solo performance of the 1941 classic “At Last,” the signature song for Etta James.

One of the show's many production numbers featuring vocalists and the dancers.

One of the show’s many production numbers featuring vocalists and the dancers.

As M.B.F pointed out, “The dancing was fabulous.” The shows dancers Jacqui Bell, Shelley Tees, Amy Louise Morlang, Ruth Robertson, Dasha Toropkina, Oliver Barrow, Jesse Barfield, Clarke Roberts and Lewis Darlington put on an incredible performance. A significant high energy precision dancing component, involving many different styles of dancing, is choreographed into the vast majority of the show’s numbers.

Their performance in terms of presentation, grace, beauty and seemingly boundless energy and enthusiasm was a joy to experience. Although the same can be said for the dancer’s performances throughout the show, in my mind, two that illustrate not only their incredible talent and versatility, but the powerful dynamic they add to the show would be their performance during “Fernando” and “In The Navy.”

As wonderful as the individual vocal and dancing components are, when they are combined together the result is a spectacular entertainment experience that is as beautiful to listen to as it is to see. Even though most numbers and each individual set has its own costuming, music and dancing they are choreographed into the show in a manner that creates a wonderful seamless entertainment experience where the 1 plus 1 of its individual parts equals 3 out of a perfect 3. What can I say, except, “Momma Mia, Dancing Queen Abbas’s Greatest Hits is one fabulous show!”

For additional information on Dancing Queen Abbas’s Greatest Hits or for tickets please contact the Branson Tourism Center, one of Branson’s largest and most respected vacation planning services by calling 1-800-785-1550.


Exclusive Cruise With The Stars traditional Branson meet and greet on steroids

Branson stars such as SIX and ...

Branson stars such as SIX and …

“We truly believe that with the Branson Tourism Center, you don’t pay more, you just get more and our exclusive Cruise with the Stars event is just one example of how that happens,” said Annette Wood, Director of Sales and Marketing, for the Branson Tourism Center (BTC). “As Branson’s biggest ticket seller, with over 3,800,000 tickets sold, BTC has worked very closely with Branson shows and attractions for over ten years developing a special relationship with them that insures that its customers get the best seats and accommodations available and the opportunity to enhance their Branson experience by participating in exclusive events such as Cruise With the Stars, and other special events,” she added.

Billy Dean will be cruising with their fans.

“Branson stars are known for their willingness to meet and greet their audiences and interact with them in signing autographs, posing for pictures etc., but the exclusive Cruise With the Stars enables their fans to interact on a whole new level,” Wood said. She points out that Cruise With The Stars is an experience actually consisting of two separate Branson entertainment activities which have been uniquely combined into one exclusive “event.”

The first activity is experiencing the performance of the Branson show of the star or stars being featured on the cruise sitting in the best available seats in the house. The second activity, is going on an exclusive VIP luncheon cruise with the star(s) aboard Main Street Cruise Lines 100 foot luxury yacht, Landing Princess.

Along with a unique view of beautiful Lake Taneycomo, Branson Landing and spectacular Ozark vistas each VIP cruise will include lunch and an unparalleled chance to interact with the star(s) on the cruise. This includes opportunities for photos, autographs and a unique up close and personal experience that is available only to those who have taken advantage of the exclusive offer and purchased Cruise With The Stars tickets. While subject to change, here is the list of the stars cruising during 2014:

Billy Dean with Paul Harris & The Cleverlys – May 23
Legends in Concert Show – June 19
SIX – July 17
Grand Jubilee – Sep.13
The Texas Tenors – Sep. 18
John and Ambrus Presley, Presleys’ Country Jubilee – Oct. 7
The Osmonds, American Jukebox & the Andy Williams Christmas Show – Nov. 18

Wood reminds those interested that there is only one cruise for each of the stars scheduled, there truly is a limited number of seats for each Cruise With The Stars and suggests making advance reservations as soon as possible. For tickets or information on the exclusive Cruise With The Stars event please contact the Branson Tourism Center by calling 1-800-875-1550.