As would be expected from a show with “Moon River” in its title, Moon River and Me is first and foremost a musical tribute to the life, talent, and music of the incomparable Andy Williams. The “Me” in the title begs the question, “Who is ‘Me?’” When one realizes that it’s Jimmy Osmond, who at the age of three made his first TV appearance on the Andy Williams Show, was mentored by Andy throughout his career, and the friendship they shared, it’s easy to realize just how special this show is going to be.
The show starts with a short video “montage” of photos and video clips of Andy’s life, from childhood on shown on a large screen in the center of the stage. As it concludes with a clip from an interview, Andy says, “That’s what I want to be remembered for, my music,” and, as the screen rises, Jimmy Osmond does just that with the first of the show’s many songs remembering Andy for his music, a beautiful rendition of Charade, which was immediately followed by Can’t Take My Eyes Off You.
In keeping with Andy’s tradition of fostering and helping young entertainers get started, Jimmy is immediately followed by a 19 year-old singing sensation from Great Britain, Charlie Green, who was a favorite with both fans and judges when he competed on “Britain’s Got Talent.” He became an ardent fan of Andy’s at the tender age of five when he heard him sing Moon River, which is still his favorite Andy Williams song. Charlie does an excellent job of singing Butterfly, one of Andy’s first hits, which was a Number 1 hit on the charts in both the U.S and Great Britain in 1957, 40 years before he was born, and Born Free.
And that’s just during the first few minutes of the show! Throughout the show, both together and individually, they performed a number of Andy’s hits which are accentuated with timely short displays of photos and short video clips shown the large center stage video screen that was lowered and raised as needed. The tasteful manner in which the large screen is integrated into the show for short periods of time, showing pertinent photos and videos, adds another wonderful dimension to the show.
Fully realizing that yours might be different from mine and picked from many, I customarily mention a few of my personal favorite moments from each show I write on. Those would be the medley of Andy’s hits that Jimmie and Charlie performed during the first half of the show, Jimmy’s performance of The Way We Were while photos and video clips were showing on the large video screen, and my absolute favorite, Jimmy singing Moon River live onstage, simultaneously with Andy singing it on the large video screen. It was so beautifully sung and choreographed.
Andy’s tradition of having variety in his show was also honored. Chipper Lowell, “one of the entertainment world’s most imaginative comedic masters of trickery,” presented his fast paced and energetic magic and comedy routine. It included audience participation, “mind boggling” magic and comedy that kept the audience amazed and laughing while wondering what he would pull out of his trunk next.
The “Moon River Band” performs a wide variety of music flawlessly throughout the show. This amazing group of musicians is composed of Greg Gray, -piano, vocals, and arranger; Steve Mason-drums; Gene Puckett-guitar and vocals; and Shaun Munday, bass and vocals.
The show also featured Jay Osmond in the second half performing on the drums, reminiscing about the Osmonds and their association with Andy, accompanied with pictures and video clips on the big screen sharing some of those moments. Jimmy and Jay closed out the set singing a couple of Osmond hits including One Bad Apple and Through The Years, which was also accompanied by highlights and pictures from the Osmond’s career shown on the big screen and touched my heart.
Moon River and Me is an awesome and touching entertainment experience, not only for Andy Williams and Osmond fans, but for anyone who loves great music. It has a short Branson run, ending on May 12 when it leaves Branson to perform in England later in the year. For additional information or tickets for this or 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 visiting www.BransonTourismCenter.com.