A unique Branson entertainment experience of legendary proportions

 

Kenney Chesney, recreated by Todd Bradshaw, with dancers having "A Beer In Mexico."

Kenney Chesney, recreated by Todd Bradshaw, with dancers having “A Beer In Mexico.”

Is the Super Bowl just another football game or does it occupy a legendary place in the annals of football? In like fashion, Branson’s Legends in Concert occupies a legendary place in the annals of tribute artist shows not only in Branson, but worldwide. Where else, except Legends in Concert in Branson, can someone find recreations of Kenny Chesney, The Blues Brothers, Katy Perry, Justin Timberlake, Whitney Houston and Elvis Presley ensconced in one spectacular entertainment production with talented dancers, great musicians, colorful costumes and great special effects and sets? The answer is, “Nowhere” and during the first week of July I had the chance to experience this wonderful production first hand.

It is obvious, that the “Legends” being recreated are the focal point of the show, but my enjoyment of the show, as a total entertainment experience, was greatly enhanced by the shows dancers, backup vocalists and the band. The shows dancers are Larry Miller, Jamie Curry, Stephanie Young, Cindy Dardas, Elisha Conner and Desta Pritchett with Conner and Pritchett also providing backup vocals. The band is composed of Kevin Allen, musical director and lead guitar; Eddie Howard, drums; Brian Zerbe, bass guitar and Lyman Clark, keyboards.

Katy Perry performing with Dancer in one of the many colorful costumes she wears during her set.

Katy Perry performing with the dancers in one of the many colorful costumes she wears during her set.

Each of the “Legends” being recreated has their own style and type of music. The talent, versatility, and energy of the dancers and band is beautiful to see and hear as they seamlessly adapt to the different styles and genres of music being performed by the individual super stars being recreated. Although there are many such occasions during the show, one that really stuck out in my mind came during the “Katy Perry” set when she was performing her “Part of Me /Dance Break/ET Medley.” The dancing, lighting and special effects were stunning and that’s just one number in one set.

Each of the performing “Legends” or “Superstars” does a set of four plus numbers including some of their biggest hits. Here’s a synopsis of each, in order of appearance, along with one of my favorite numbers from each set:

Kenney Chesney, recreated by Todd Bradshaw, a Branson favorite, starts the show off in grand style doing a number of Chesney’s top hits including “When the Sun Goes Down,” “She Thinks My Tractor’s Sexy” and others. Ok, I just have to say it, “I don’t know why ‘she thought his tractor was sexy,’ but I know why I think his tractor is sexy and so will you after seeing and hearing it performed Legends in Concert style. My favorite number from his set was “You Had Me From Hello.” Not only was it a great job on a very beautiful song, but he invited folks to come down to the front and dance to it which many did. It’s hard to describe, but it was a special moment.

Another thing that’s really neat, and goes on periodically throughout the show, is the large screens on either side of the theatre showing some of the original artists performing, minus sound, while the recreator performs. The similarities and mannerisms between the original performances and what I saw and heard going on live before my very eyes was uncanny.

Justin Timberlake recreated by Scott Jordon during his set.

Justin Timberlake recreated by Scott Jordon during his set.

The Blues Brothers, performed by Justin Clark as Elwood Blues and Bucky Heard as Jake Blues, are permanent Branson cast members, but no matter how many times I have seen them perform I am always amazed at their performance. “From their first number to the last they are nothing, but pure energy and entertainment and a joy to see and hear.” My favorite number from their set was “Shout” because it ties the talents of the two Blue Brothers together with the dancers, back up vocalists and band into another extremely energetic and entertaining production number.

Katy Perry, recreated by Stacey Whitton, gave a colorful high energy performance of some of Perry’s top hits including “California Gurls,” “Part of Me” and others with some of the quickest and “neatest” costume changes I have ever seen a vocalist make on a Branson stage. The use of the dancers, and the special effects during this set, particularly as noted above, coupled with her performance, and costuming really made for an exciting and colorful set.

My favorite number was her performance of “Firework” with her inspirational introduction and invitation for the “kids” in the audience to come up on stage and “help” her, which many did. I don’t know that I have ever seen the younger crowd in an audience as excited in a Legends show as I did during this set; they just loved her. Now I have to confess, I honestly did not know who “Katy Perry” was, but I do now.

Justin Timberlake, recreated by Scott Jordan, did a beautiful job performing a number of his top hits including “Suit and Tie, “Mirrors,” “My Love” and others. As the side videos played and I compared his sound, looks and mannerisms to those of Timberlake himself I was amazed. This guy is good. My favorite number was his performance of “SexyBack” with the shows dancers and backup vocalists.

Cynthia Minx as Whitney Houston singing "I Will Always Love You."

Cynthia Minx as Whitney Houston singing “I Will Always Love You.”

Whitney Houston, recreated by Cynthia Minx, started her set with a beautiful powerful rendition of “Every Woman” that set the tenor for the set. With Whitney Houston it was all about the voice and this lady has the voice. I just sat there and listened in joyful bliss as she sang “I Wanna Dance;” “Greatest Love,” which she dedicated to the children, and “I’ll Always Love You” which blew my socks off. What an extraordinary vocal performance!

Elvis was performed by Dean Z who won the national “2013 Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist Contest,” sanctioned by Elvis Presley Enterprises, Inc. As he performs a number of Elvis’ hits, from “Jail House Rock” to “If I can Dream,” it’s easy to see why. My favorite part was when he and the band had an informal jam session and took requests from the audience including, among others, “Steamroller Blues,” which Elvis added to his concerts in the 1970s. Although Dean Z lives in Branson and has been a permanent Branson cast member for a number of years he is traveling to other Legends in Concert venues at various times this year, but is currently performing in Branson.

Legends in Concert, with just the mini concerts of its “superstar” impersonators, would be great entertainment in itself. However, with the addition of colorful costuming, the band and dancers all seamlessly choreographed into the performances of the “superstars” the show becomes an entertainment production and experience of legendary proportions that truly has something for everyone. It truly is a unique Branson entertainment experience of legendary proportions.

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 by either calling their toll free number 1-800-785-1550 or through their website www.BransonTourismCenter.com.

 

 

 

Material Connection

Honoring of Titanic passenger sparks a special moment

The "Survivors' Wall of Stories" in the "Discovery Room" of Branson's Titanic  Museum Attraction.

The “Survivors’ Wall of Stories” in the “Discovery Room” of Branson’s Titanic Museum Attraction.

On July 9th, this 73 year old balding man experienced a bit of Titanic magic as he boarded the Titanic Museum Attraction (Titanic) in Branson, Missouri as nine year old “Master Frankie Goldsmith,” (Frankie) to experience the attraction through a child’s eyes. I will be writing about that experience within the next few days, but I just had to share one part of it separately because, to me, it was such a special moment.

I “boarded” the Titanic and, is the case with all passengers, received a boarding pass. Because I was going as a “child” I received a boarding pass identifying me as “Frankie” and, under the excellent supervision of First Class Maid Jamie, had one of the most pleasant “tours” on the Titanic I have ever had, but then the others were as an adult and this was through the eyes of a child. As we came towards the end of our tour and entered the “Memorial Room” I found out that my mother, Emily , and I had survived the sinking. It was then that Jamie told me the story of how I had been saved.

She related, in that special Titanic way, that a family friend, Thomas Theobald, also a passenger on the Titanic, saw my mother crying while waiting to get into the lifeboat. When he asked her what was the matter she said although she had my hand we had become separated. Mr. Theobald told her he thought he had seen me and would go back and get me. Just before leaving my mother, he gave her his wedding ring and asked that she deliver it to his wife if he didn’t survive. He found me and brought me to my mother in time for me to get in the lifeboat with her, but only women and children were permitted in the boat. He did not survive the sinking. Subsequent pictures of my mother with her arm around me, taken soon after we were rescued, show that she was wearing two wedding rings. She returned Mr. Theobald’s ring to his wife.

After telling me the story we went around the corner into the “Discovery Room” and up to the “Survivors’ Wall of Stories” where I would find out exactly what happened to “Frankie” after surviving the ordeal. The cards and photos are organized alphabetically. As I approached the wall and found “Goldsmith” I was standing next to a lady reading Emily Goldsmith’s card with a girl that I believe was her daughter. When she told me she had the Boarding Pass for Emily Goldsmith I called her “Mom” and identified myself as her “Titanic Son Frankie.”

Because I had just heard the story about how Frankie had been saved, I asked Jamie if she would mind sharing the story again, which she did with the same passion and enthusiasm that she had conveyed to me just a few moments earlier. As she was telling the story, tears welled up in the woman’s eyes and, as she thanked Jamie for sharing the story, it was obvious that it had touched her.

I do not know who she was or why the story brought tears to her eyes and do not know her name, but as we parted I thought to myself, what are the odds? The odds that I would get Frankie’s boarding pass at that time, that day and that, within minutes after First Class Maid Jamie had shared that story with me, I would meet the woman who had received the boarding pass of Frankie’s mom in a chance encounter?

Shortly prior to that encounter, Jamie had explained to me that one of the major purposes of the Titanic Museum Attraction is to honor the memories of the those who were on the Titanic; “We really do believe that when someone passes on, the best way to honor them is to simply tell their story and we get the honor to do that every single day.” My experience that day convinces me that telling their stories not only honors them, but can have an impact on those hearing the stories.

Although I do profess to know why it happened or the end effect of what happened, I will never forget those tears and that special moment when Jamie shared that story with my “Titanic Mom.” Over 100 years later, because someone shared his story, the actions of Mr. Theobald are not only remembered and honored, but having an impact on people’s lives today.

25 Special July – August Branson Events

Great Southern Gospel Music and food at Silver Dollar City;s "Southern Gospel Picnic."

Great Southern Gospel Music and food at Silver Dollar City;s “Southern Gospel Picnic.”

With its shows, attractions, lakes, shopping and other activities, there is always something that is fun, interesting and exciting to do in Branson. When you factor in the additional special events taking place throughout the year it become sever more so.

Here is a list of some special Branson events, including, among others, two festivals at Silver Dollar City; the Titanic Museum Attraction’s Tribute to the Titanic Musicians; Annual Downtown Branson Fiddle Festival, which will be held indoors at the Owens Theatre in historic downtown Branson; the Super Summer Cruise; Branson Balloon Festival and the CAM Gospel Sing-Off:

July 2014

Jul 1 – July 31:  Titanic’s Tribute to the Musicians
Jul 1 – Jul 30:  Summer Concert Series at Branson Landing
Jul 3 – Jul 31:  Night Water at White Water (Select Dates)
Jul 3 – Jul 31:  Free Ice Cream For Kids I Pledge Program (Select Dates)
Jul 10 – 20:  Star Spangled Summer Silver Dollar City
Jul 11 – Jul 13:  Show-Me F100’s Ozark Run
Jul 19:  Branson Tourism Center Preferred Event with The Haygoods
|Jul 19:  Boys & Girls Club Annual Golf Tournament (Holiday Hills at 7am to 4pm)
Jul 19 – Jul 31:  Moonlight Madness at Silver Dollar City
Jul 25 – Jul 26:  Rockaway Beach Bikers & Babes at the Beach

August 2014

Aug 1 – Aug 31:  Titanic’s Tribute to the Musicians
Aug 1 – Aug 31:  Summer Concert Series at Branson Landing
Aug 1- Aug 3:  Moonlight Madness at Silver Dollar City
Aug 1 – Aug 30:  Night Water at White Water (Select Dates)
Aug 1 – Aug 3:  Missouri State Tax Free Holiday Sale at Tanger Outlets Center
Aug 2 – Aug 3:  26th Annual Downtown Branson Fiddle Festival
Aug 7 – Aug 9:  Super Summer Cruise at Shepherd of the Hills
Aug 19:  Branson Tourism Center Preferred Event with Adventures of Marco Polo
Aug 22 – Aug 24:  Branson Balloon Festival
Aug 22 – Sep 1:  Southern Gospel Picnic at Silver Dollar City.
Aug 22 – Aug 24:  Sleds Midwest Car Show
Aug 29 – Sep 1:  Labor Day Weekend Sale at Tanger Outlets Center
Aug 31:  CAM Gospel Sing Off Sight & Sound Theatre
Aug 31:  Labor Day Fireworks at Big Cedar Lodge
Aug 31:  Labor Day Celebration at Chateau on the Lake

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

 

Branson Tourism Center’s 4 millionth ticket surprises 1st time Branson visitors

Don and Marsha Meeker right after the balloon drop.

Don and Marsha Meeker right after the balloon drop.

It was their first trip to Branson and they knew that Branson was known for its excitement and friendliness, but Don and Marsha Meeker, from Remus, Michigan, were surprised at the reception they received when they arrived to check-in at the Reception Area of the Branson Tourism Center on July 2nd. Hundreds of blue and white balloons fell from the ceiling and everyone was clapping and cheering as they were informed that they had purchased the 4 millionth show and attraction ticket sold by the Branson Tourism Center.

The Meekers were greeted by Lianne and Larry Milton, CEO and co-founders of the Branson Tourism Center, and Dave Hamner, co-owner and star of Hamners Unbelievable Variety Show, one of the five shows on their Branson itinerary. They were thrilled to find out that, in celebration of their purchase of the 4 millionth ticket, that all the lodging, shows and other activities they had booked through the Branson Tourism Center for their entire six day five night Branson vacation was as guests of BTC and at no charge to them. In addition, $100 BTC Gift cards were handed out to all of BTC’s customers who were in the reception area checking in at the time the announcement was made to the Meekers.

When asked what made them decide to come to Branson for the first time Marsha said, “My parents have been here two or three times and friends have been here two or three times. Everybody that I know that has been here has either come back or said that they wanted to come back. I’ve never heard of anybody who said, ‘I will never go back to that place again.’” She pointed out that they have been trying to get to Branson for some time and were considering a bus tour, but decided to come on their own when none was available.

The 4 millionth ticket was actually sold on June 1, 2014, by BTC Travel Planner Irving Garcia, was to the Hamners’ Unbelievable Variety Show and remained a secret to the Meekers, and just about everybody else, until they checked in at the Branson Tourism Center on July 2. Garcia, a Branson Tourism Center Travel Planner, sold the ticket as part of BTCs unique, free, personal “concierge” type service, offered through a toll free phone call 1-800-785-1550, which helps potential Branson visitors plan their vacation, get answers to questions and, as was the case with the Meekers, purchase their tickets and lodging.

Marsha said she called the Branson Tourism Center when she went on line, saw their website, www.BransonTourismCenter.com, and thought that would be the right place to get Branson information. When asked if she was right, she replied, “Absolutely!” She went on to say, Even before all this happened, “Everybody, was so friendly and so helpful.”

Annette Wood, Director of Sales and Marketing for the Branson Tourism Center said, “That’s one of the great joys in selling our 4 millionth ticket; they were all sold one at a time, with the same friendliness and helpfulness the Meekers felt, to wonderful people like the Meekers.

 

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 Dilly 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.