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.
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.
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.
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.