Category Archives: Featured

Branson Up Close and Personal with the Million Dollar Quartet’s “fun girl,” Lindsey Perenchio

Lindsey Perenchio, “Dyanne in the Branson production of “Million Dollar Quartet.”

The smash hit show Million Dollar Quartet, at the Welk Resort Theatre in Branson, tells the story of a unique, impromptu, one time jam session consisting of four young recording legends-to-be: Carl Perkins, Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, and Jerry Lee Lewis. The events of what took place in the storefront recording studio of Sun Records on December 4, 1956, come to life on the Branson stage in the awesome musical production of this Tony Award winning show.

Accompanying Elvis Presley that night was a young Las Vegas dancer. Although, she all but disappeared from any public mention with him after that night, her presence, that night, is the basis for the character “Dyanne” in the show. In this edition of ” Branson Up Close and Personal,” the fun loving Lindsey Perenchio (LP), an accomplished vocalist, dancer, and choreographer, who plays the part of “Dyanne” in this unique “ground shaking,” Branson entertainment experience, is going to share with us.

“Branson – Up Close and Personal” is a service of Branson Tourism Center (BTC), one of Branson’s largest and most respected vacation planning services. It uses a “Question and Answer” format to provide readers with an up close and personal look at a Branson star or personality. The interviews are conducted for the Branson Tourism Center by Gary Groman, a 32 year resident of the Branson area, local columnist, and freelance writer.

BTC: If you could perform or meet with any entertainer (living or deceased) who would it be and why?
LP: Janice Joplin because I think she was an amazing entertainer who died too early. She was the epitome of a rock star and had awesome musicality.

BTC: In your career, of all the performances you have made and you have been in, no matter how big or small, which one personally meant the most to you and why?
LP: When I was 19, I was hired to be a singer for the touring company of the Radio City Rockettes Christmas Show, which I performed in Branson. It has special meaning because I learned so much about the business while performing with them.

BTC: What’s the story on Lindsey Perenchcio’s 2015 Choreography Reel on U Tube?
LP: I love doing choreography. When I was in college I majored in musical theatre and minored in dance and graduated from Milliken University with a Bachelor of Fine Arts with a major in musical theatre and a minor in dance. I have always been a dancer and was a choreographer for many years and that’s what inspired that video.

BTC: Are you a singer, dancer choreographer or all of the above?
LP: All the above.

BTC: What do you like most about playing “Dyanne” in the Million Dollar Quartet?
LP: Getting to perform with this great cast! They are so talented and so much fun to be around.

 BTC: Whether you’re in it or not what’s your favorite part of the show?
LP: I’m not in it, but I love the performance of the gospel song, “Down By the Riverside”, by the guys. They seem to be having a really good time and the audience enjoys it so much.

BTC: What’s your favorite part of the show that you perform in, no matter how major or minor the role?
LP: My first song in the show, “Fever.”

BTC: Why should someone coming to Branson plan to see the Million Dollar Quartet?
LP: It’s different than most shows in Branson. It’s a Tony Award nominated Broadway musical with characters and dramatic roles and music that everyone knows and loves. It provides a wonderful total entertainment experience.

BTC: What is your favorite Elvis Presley song?
LP: His performance of the Don Gibson hit, I Can’t Stop Loving You.

BTC: Where were you born?
LP: I was born in a hospital in Janesville, WI, just over the Wisconsin border from Harvard, Illinois, which was where I grew up.

BTC: Was there something special about your childhood that you think our readers would be interested in?
LP: How awesome my Mom was! She passed away when I was 20, but my childhood was very much inspired by her. She was a pretty phenomenal lady, a teacher and an inspiration to our whole community, but especially to me.

BTC: When did you realize that you wanted to sing professionally?
LP: I started dancing when I was six. My first public performance was a tap dance in Delevan, Wisconsin where I took dance when I was little and I have been dancing and singing ever since. When I was in dance ensemble in college they asked me to choreograph a piece. It was then I realized that I really liked doing it and it has been a passion of mine eversince.

 BTC: What is choreography?
LP: It’s the conceptualization of the whole creative look on stage. You have to think of levels, what you can work with, how many people you have, and the energy and style of the song. Essentially, it’s the entire energy of the piece.

BTC: Do you have any formal vocal, dancing or acting training
LP: Yes, all of the above. I have been taking dance since I was six, voice lessons since I was in high school, and got my college degree in musical theatre and dance.

BTC: Where was your last gig before the Million Dollar Quartet
LP: I had been working out at Silver Dollar City in various shows the last 13 years during which time I also performed and choreographed, the Red, Hot and Blue Show, and worked as the understudy in Million Dollar Quartet.

BTC: When was the first time you visited Branson?
LP: In 1999 when I performed at the Grand Palace in the Radio City Rockettes Christmas Show.

BTC: What was your first impression of Branson?
LP: I thought it was really interesting, unique, and unlike any other place I had ever been before.

BTC: What do you like most about Branson?
LP: I love the outdoor aspect of it. I love hiking, boating and the beauty of the area.

BTC: What do you like most about performing in Branson?
LP: The audiences. I like that you get to meet and greet them. Many come back repeatedly and it means so much to us to see them siting in the audience.

BTC: What’s your favorite thing to do in Branson when you are not performing?
LP: I like to be out in our boat on Table Rock Lake.

BTC: What made you decide to audition for the part of “Dyanne” in Million Dollar Quartet?
LP: When it first opened in Branson, one of the people I worked with at Silver Dollar told me they were looking for an understudy for the roll of Dyanne. I applied and got it, and was able to do both until deciding to leave Silver Dollar City for the Million Dollar Quarter

BTC: Do you have a “little known” fact about yourself that you think our readers would like to know?
LP: Even though I am a performer, I have a fear of public speaking

BTC: Married…Children?
LP: Yes, to a Branson Fireman. We have two boys ages 12 and 4.

For additional information or tickets for the Million Dollar Quartet, or any of Branson’s shows and attractions, or for lodging, please contact the Branson Tourism Center by calling 1-800-785-1550, or by visiting www.BransonTourismCenter.com.

12th Annual Elvis Festival rocks in Branson April 13-15


Dean Z, “winner of the “2013 Ultimate Elvis® Tribute Artist Contest™ Final” in Memphis ,will be hosting the “Branson Ultimate Elvis Contest” as well as performing his “Dean Z” show during the festival.

Branson has many unique and exciting things to do but, especially if you’re an Elvis fan, none of them rivals the excitement of the annual Branson Elvis® Festival. The festival will be held on the world famous “Branson Strip,” at Dick Clark’s American Bandstand Theater, the home of Branson’s Legends in Concert show, April 13-15.

The highlight of the Festival is the Ultimate Elvis® Tribute Artist Contest™ which will be held on the Legends in Concert stage, Saturday, April 14 starting at 7:00 PM. The contestants will be judged on vocals, appearance and stage presence. The winner of the Branson contest receives a prize package and the opportunity to compete in the 2018 Ultimate Elvis® Tribute Artist Contest™ Finals presented by Elvis Presley Enterprises, Inc. to be held August 9 -12 in Memphis, Tennessee as part of the 40th anniversary of Elvis Week and the opportunity to perform in the April 15 performance of the Branson Legends in Concert show.

Legends in Concert’s General Manager, Jeannie Horton said that the Branson Contest will be hosted by “Dean Z,” who won the “2013 Ultimate Elvis® Tribute Artist Contest™ Final.” in Memphis. She said that the quality of the 18 contestants is outstanding and that it’s going to be a great evening of entertainment. She also pointed out that the show is completely sold out so the only tickets available will be if someone cancels their reservation or doesn’t show up. The 2018 Branson Elvis Festival contestants are:

David Allen – Frisco, TX                         Russ Brittain – Ogden, IA
Ralph Carey – Lyndhurst, NJ                 Tyler Christopher – Ft Thomas, KY
Josh Davis – White Oak, TX                    Johnny Deans – Hillsboro, OH
“Cody ” – Cote Deonath – Oscala, FL   Dusty“Delvis” Duling – Eureka Springs, AR
Daisuke Kirya -JAPAN                            Rory Moore – Bonne Terre, MO
Carl Poe – Lyons, IN                               Taylor Rodriguez – Lynchburg, VA
EJ Sharp – Claremore, OK                      Eddie Simpson – Boxholm, IA
Steve Sogura – Ravensdale, WA           Mansour Spears – Austin, TX
Monty Tucker – Parma, MO                  GaryTussing – Clare, IA

In addition, to the Ultimate Elvis® Tribute Artist Contest™ the Branson Elvis Festival includes several other exciting events including:

Friday, April 13 at 5 PM: Elvis Meet & Greet Dinner at Grand Country Buffett. [Note: This event     is sold out, but will open again if there are cancellations. If interested in case of cancellations       please call the box office at 417-339-3003.]
Friday, April 13 at 8 PM: Legends in Concert show
Friday, April 13 at 10:45 PM: Dean Z Show presents the winner of the national “2013 Ultimate       Elvis® Tribute Artist Contest™ Final,” for this one night only performance, as he presents a           musical celebration, from the by gone era of rock ‘n’ roll, pop, and rhythm and blues of the         hit  music that inspires and drives his love for performance.
Saturday, 14 – 9 AM – 4 PM: The Elvis Vendor Village will be open in Dick Clark’s American                Bandstand Theater lobby. Vendors from across the country will be selling unique Elvis                   merchandise.
Saturday, April 14 – 11 AM: A new event, the Branson Elvis Festival Youth Tribute Artist                Showcase (Ages 5-17) on the Legends in Concert stage. A $25 entry fee and registration is            required. Call 417-339-3003 x 3015 to request more information on this event, or email                tbailey@legendsinconcert.com.
Saturday, April 14 – 7 PM: The Ultimate Elvis® Tribute Artist Contest [Note: This event is sold      out, but will open again if there are cancellations. If interested in case of cancellations please      call the Branson Tourism Center at 1-800-785-1550.]
Saturday, April 14: “After Party” at Branson’s Center Stage Grille.
Sunday, April 14, 11 AM Jerry Presley’s Gospel Revival, God and Country Theatre
Sunday, April 14 – 8 PM: Guest appearance of the 2018 Branson Ultimate Elvis® Tribute Artist        Contest™ winner during the 8 PM performance of Legends in Concert.

For additional information or tickets for the Legends in Concert show, The Ultimate Elvis® Tribute Artist Contest,™ or any of Branson’s other shows and attractions or for lodging arrangements please feel free to contact the Branson Tourism Center (BTC), one of Branson’s largest and most respected vacation planning services by calling their toll free number 1-800-785-1550 or through their web site www.BransonTourismCenter.com.

 

Best Branson Insider Highlights for April 2018

Most recently seen on the hit NBC show, “The Voice,” country music super star Trace Adkins .

In April, the Ozark Hills surrounding Branson blossom into the full freshness and wonder of spring, but that’s not all that happens! It’s also when Branson’s shows, attractions, outdoor and other activities blossom into the full freshness and wonder of their 2018 seasons.

Here’s our Featured Show, Limited Engagement, and Event of the Month, along with a list highlighting many other Limited Engagement appearances, and Special Events you can enjoy in Branson during April:

Featured Show of the Month: Million Dollar Quartet, the Tony Award-winning musical, is again captivating Branson audiences with this brilliant musical adaptation depicting a phenomenal moment in the history of rock and roll; the impromptu jam session that brought together music budding icons Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Carl Perkins for the first and only time they would ever perform together! In 1956, rocker Carl Perkins scheduled a recording session at Sun Studios in Memphis, with his band and another rock ‘n roller, Jerry Lee Lewis. Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash happened by separately and they all just started jamming together.

The Million Dollar Quartet is filled with songs that most know and love such as “Matchbox,” “That’s All right,” “I Walk the Line”, “Ghost Riders in the Sky,” “Hound Dog,” “Peace in the Valley,” “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On,” “Blue Suede Shoes, and Who Do You Love, but it’s much more. It’s the story of a special moment, relationships, and a hint of romance, all in a production that is one of the most entertaining in Branson.

Featured Limited Engagement of the Month: Trace Adkins with special guest Billy Dean. Trace Adkins’ trademark baritone has powered numerous hits to the top on the charts. Among other things, the three-time Grammy nominated member of the Grand Ole Opry is also a TV personality, most recently appearing in the NBC hit prime time show, “The  Voice,” an actor, author, and spokesman for the Wounded Warrior Project. Adkin’s numerous hits include “This Ain’t No Thinkin’ Thing,” “I Left Something Turned On At Home,” “Hot Mama,” “Songs About Me,” “Honky Tonk Badonkadonk,” “Ladies Love Country Boys,” “You’re Gonna Miss This,” “Arlington,” “I’m Tryin’,” “Chrome,” and “This Ain’t No Love Song.” Appearing along with Adkins, as a special guest will be Billy Dean who has a string of hits including “Only Here For A Little While,” “Somewhere In My Broken Heart,” “You Don’t Count The Cost,” “Only The Wind,” “Billy The Kid,” “If There Hadn’t Been You,” “We Just Disagree,” “That Girl’s Been Spyin’ On Me,” and “Let Them Be Little.

Featured Event of the Month: Branson.com Honors Purple Heart Recipients, is a unique event remembering, honoring, serving, and entertaining those getting the ‘Purple Heart’ as the result of combat wounds suffered serving in the U.S. Armed Forces. It is arranged to permit time for those attending to share time with one another, experience Branson, and take part in activities that honor, entertain and support them. All of the activities are no cost to Purple Heart Recipients. For more information or to Register, please call 1-800-268-4014 or go to the Branson.Com Honors Purple Heart Recipients web page.

Limited Engagements (Sorted by starting date.)

Apr 13: The Dean Z Show
Apr 14: Ultimate Elvis Tribute Contest
Apr 17-17: Mickey Gilley & Johnny Lee – The Urban Cowboy Reunion
Apr 20-21: Oak Ridge Boys
Apr 20-21: Branson Music Fest
Apr 22-24: Mickey Gilley & Johnny Lee – The Urban Cowboy Reunion
Apr 27: Trace Adkins with special guest Billy Dean

Special Event Highlights (Sorted by starting date.)

Apr 1-8: Spring Ride Days at Silver Dollar City
Apr 1-30: Ozark Mountain Shindig Festival
Apr 6-8: Silver Dollar City Young Christian’s Weekend
Apr 7: Party with the Stars
Apr 11-29: Festival of Wonder at Silver Dollar City
Apr 12-14: 10th Annual Branson.Com Honors Purple Heart Recipients 
Apr 13-15: Ultimate Elvis Tribute Contest & Festival
Apr 14: Ultimate Elvis Tribute Contest – American Bandstand Theatre
Apr 16-22: Bass Pro Shops Legends of Golf – Big Cedar
Apr 18-22: Legends of Golf Presented by Bass Pro Shops
Apr 20-21: Branson Car Auction – Branson Convention Center
Apr 20-21: Branson Music Fest – Welk Resort Branson
Apr 20-21: Branson Auto Auction
Apr 28: Kayak Branson’s Biggest Flotilla Adventure on Lake Taneycomo

For additional information on these events, or any of Branson’s shows and attractions, or for lodging arrangements, please contact the Branson Tourism Center by visiting www.BransonTourismCenter.com, or calling 1-800-785-1550 and talking with one of their  Branson-based vacation planning specialists. They will be delighted to answer any questions, and assist you with show or lodging reservations and there’s absolutely no charge for this service.

Samson bringing Branson house down in a mighty way!

Sight and Sound’s production of Samson is as epic and spectacular as the man whose story it tells.

Sight and Sounds spectacular stage production of the biblical epic Samson is literally bringing the house down daily to the entertainment delight of Branson audiences. When responding to the question, “How do you pick your shows?” Josh Eneck, President and Chief Creative Officer of Sight and Sound Theatre’s said, “It absolutely comes from prayer with the Lord and seeking Him on what’s the best story to tell for the day and age we are in right now.”

It’s hard to imagine a better story to tell in the day and age we find ourselves in right now than that of the world’s first “super hero,” Samson, a man, like many today, who have strayed from God’s path, and need to trust in Him and His grace, to return to the His path. The story of Samson’s heroic battle with the Philistines, succumbing to temptation, losing his strength and sight but, through perseverance and by trusting in God and His grace, redeeming himself in a mighty way is well known. And who better to bring it to the stage than Sight and Sound Theatres, noted for their spectacular entertaining biblical productions?

It’s important to note however, that this show, while based on one of the most famous biblical stories of all time, stands on its own as a unique entertainment experience. It’s a show whose story, cast, music, dancing, scale, spectacle and ability to entertain does so, regardless of one’s knowledge or appreciation of the bible. It’s just an amazing entertainment experience to be enjoyed by all!

The story’s brought to life on Sight and Sound’s 300 foot surround sound stage, amid amazing sets and special effects, colorful costuming, and a host of live animals. Don’t want to spoil the surprises, but suffice it to say there’s action on the stage, up and down the aisles and overhead as the story unfolds. Ok, just have to mention one part, you’ll have to wait for it, but it literally brings the house down.

It’s a story we can all relate to, that uses the narration of Manoah, Samson’s father, to tie different elements together as he tells the story of his son, his trials, temptations, and relationships. As should be the case today, Samson’s relationship with his family played a pivotal role in developing the man who rose to the heights of success, faltered in his faith and fell to the depths of defeat, and ultimately rose again in victory. Too, it tells the story of a father and mother’s love for their son; the conflicting emotions of both Samson and Delilah as they dealt with their relationship, her ultimate betrayal, and the rekindling of Samson’s faith under the most dire of circumstances for his final act of heroism and service to his God.

The musical format under which the story unfolds is beautifully acted, sung, and danced by an outstanding cast that exudes not only a tremendous amount of talent, but a love and dedication to their performance. Two of my favorite musical numbers was the entire cast performance of the rousing “Philistia Brave and Strong” and Samson’s performance of “What Is This Grace?” during his realization and acceptance of God’s grace. The role of Manoah, Samson’s father, narrating the story really added to the overall experience.

No matter how you look at it, story wise, musically, or production wise, Samson is one incredible entertainment experience that inspires as it entertains and can should not be missed.

Prior to seeing Samson you might like to take the special Behind the Scenes Tour of the production. “A million watts of lights, sixty-thousand watts of sound, a massive stage over twenty-thousand square feet in size that wraps around the audience on three sides and four-story tall set pieces towering right in front of you.” This additional add on tour, includes exclusive backstage access to everything that happens behind the scenes and can really add to the total Samson experience.

For more information on Samson, the Behind the Scenes Tour, or other great Branson shows or lodging please contact the Branson Tourism Center, one of Branson’s largest and most respected vacation planning services and sellers of almost 5 million Branson show and attraction tickets by calling 1-800-785-1550 or through their website www.BransonTourismCenter.com .

 

“Samson” and Silver Dollar City’s “Time Traveler ” are finally here!

“There’s always something new and exciting in Branson; 2018, is no exception,” said Preston Garrison, Business Unit Manager for the Branson Tourism Center. “Two of the most anticipated events of 2018 are the Branson premier of Sight and Sound’s spectacular stage production of Samson on March 3 and the opening of Silver Dollar City’s world record setting ‘Time Traveler’ spinning coaster, scheduled for March 14,” he added.

Sight and Sound Theatres, noted for its spectacular productions, will be premiering Samson in Branson on March 3. It presents the story on a  “jaw-dropping scale as it’s brought to life by a world-class cast, spectacular special effects, and live animals – on stage and in the aisles. It’s an unforgettable, uplifting thrill ride that literally brings the house down!…As Samson battles the Philistines – and his own personal calling – he soon falls prey to temptation, losing his strength and sight. But he never stops hoping. He’s a frequent failure and an underachiever yet, in the New Testament book of Hebrews, ‘Samson’ is included on the all-star list of faith. Discover how God transforms this unwilling hero to accomplish His work.”

Those planning to see Samson might also want to take the special Behind the Scenes Tour of the production. “A million watts of lights, sixty-thousand watts of sound, a massive stage over twenty-thousand square feet in size that wraps around the audience on three sides and four-story tall set pieces towering right in front of you.” It has exclusive backstage access to everything that happens behind the scenes.

The Behind the Scenes Tour is available with the purchase of regular season ticket. Arrival time is at 12:30 pm, the tour begins at 1:00 pm, and lasts 1 hour.

Silver Dollar City’s new $26 million Time Traveler coaster is the world’s fastest, steepest, and tallest spinning coaster. “It’s a revolutionary coaster ahead of our time, and there’s only one place on the planet to experience it; that’s here in Silver Dollar City!” said Brad Thomas, President of Silver Dollar City Attractions.

The Time Traveler, is a world-record-breaking spinning coaster from many different aspects. With a top speed of 50.3 miles per hour, it will be the fastest and its “”immediate out-of-the-station 10 story, 90 degree vertical drop”… straight down the Ozark mountainside, is the steepest drop. Other “first and only” features include three inversions, a Dive Loop, Vertical Loop, and a Zero-G Roll; a 95-foot tall Vertical Loop; and a double launch. It’s first day of operation is scheduled to be in conjunction with the opening of Silver Dollar City’s 2018 season on March 14.

For additional information on Samson, Silver Dollar City or for lodging arrangements, please contact the Branson Tourism Center by visiting www.BransonTourismCenter.com, or calling 1-800-785-1550 and talk with a Branson-based vacation planning specialist. They will be delighted to answer any questions, and assist you with show or lodging reservations. There’s absolutely no charge for this service.

 

Best Branson Insider Highlights for March 2018

Sight and Sounds’ biblical spectacular “Samson” premiers March 3.

“With the winter we’ve had everyone is looking forward to spring and, there’s just something special about spring in Branson,” said, Preston Garrison, Director of Operations for the Branson Tourism Center. “The beauty of our Ozarks as they begin to blossom out with spring foliage and colors, the opening of Silver Dollar City, and the start of the season for Presleys’ Country Jubilee has for decades been signs that it’s spring in Branson,” he added.

Here’s our Featured Show and Event of the Month, with a list of the highlights of special events you can enjoy in Branson during the month of March:

Featured Show(s) of the Month: The Branson Premier of Samson, Sight and Sound Theatres’ newest biblical spectacular. Experience this epic story as Samson battles the Philistines and himself and discover how God transforms this unwilling hero to accomplish His work. It’s all brought to life on a 300 foot surround sound stage, with animals, awesome special effects, colorful costumes, spectacular sets, and an amazing cast in a production that will entertain and inspire the whole family.

Presleys’ Country Jubilee, Branson’s first show on the “Branson Strip” starts its 51st consecutive Branson season on March 9. Its mix of that special Presley comedy strategically interwoven into the shows great music provides a one of a kind entertainment experience that keeps the audience, kids and adults alike, completely entertained, laughing, and wondering what to expect next! Once you’ve experienced you will understand why it has been one of Branson’s most popular show for over 50 years.

Featured Event of the Month: The scheduled opening of Silver Dollar City’s new $26 million “Time Traveler,” the world’s fastest, steepest, and tallest Spinning Coaster on March 14 in conjunction with the 2018 opening of Silver Dollar City. It’s a world-record-breaking Spinning Coaster from many different aspects including a top speed of 50.3 miles per hour, making it the fastest with its immediate out-of-the-station 10 story, 90 degree vertical drop”… straight down the Ozark mountainside, making it the steepest.

Special Event Highlights (Sorted by starting date.)

Mar 2 – Mar 4: Branson Classic Gymnastics, Branson Convention Center
Mar 2: First Friday, Branson Landing
Mar 8 – Mar 10: National IH Collectors Club Winter Convention
Mar 9: 5 K The Kenyan Way
March 14: Silver Dollar City opens 2018 Season
Mar 14 – Apr 08: Spring Ride Days, Silver Dollar City
Mar 16 – 17: American Cheer Power Cheerleading Competition
Mar 17: Hughes Music Show Presents St. Patrick’s Luck of the Irish Show
Mar 22 – 25: MoNASP State Tournament, (Archery) Branson, Convention Center
Mar 24 – Mar 25: KVD Big Bass Classic
Mar 31: Hollister Easter Egg Hunt Hollister High School Football Field
Mar 31 – Apr 2: Silver Dollar City Young Christians Weekend

For additional information on these events, or any of Branson’s shows and attractions, or for lodging arrangements, please contact the Branson Tourism Center by visiting www.BransonTourismCenter.com, or calling 1-800-785-1550 and talking with a Branson-based vacation planning specialist. They will be delighted to answer any questions, and assist you with show or lodging reservations and there’s absolutely no charge for this service.

 

A whole lotta rock n’ roll history makes Million Dollar Quartet an entertainment blast!

The “Million Dollar Quartet,” Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins, Elvis Presley, and Johnny Cash.

When four young recording legends-to-be, Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins, Johnny Cash, and Jerry Lee Lewis, ended up in an impromptu jam session on December 4, 1956 history was made. Ironically, no one appreciated its importance at the time and one of the most significant moments in rock n’ roll history was almost forgotten.

Thankfully, that wasn’t the case. Except for one newspaper article, which referred to the four as “The Million Dollar Quartet,” and its accompanying photo, appearing a Memphis Newspaper the day after, the session was largely forgotten. It was only after the sale of Sun Records decades later, when the new owner discovered a forgotten recording of the session, that its significance became apparent.

Those recordings, that jam session, and the four rock n’ roll legends involved became the inspiration for the Tony Award winning musical Million Dollar Quartet. It shares the music, spontaneity, and drama of what happened that day, as four future legends performed together for their first and last time.

Branson has over 100 live shows, offering a wide variety of quality entertainment, but there’s only one like the Million Dollar Quartet. It’s great story line, outstanding cast, timeless music that everyone knows, combine with the show’s unique set and great production to create an incredible entertainment experience for the whole family to enjoy together.

To do the music and a story line justice requires an awesome cast of talented performers. The cast of Million Dollar Quartet is just that and “then some.” Tyler K. Hunter as Elvis Presley, Cliff Wright as Johnny Cash, John Countryman as Jerry Lee Lewis, and Brad Waters as Carl Perkins, do a great job of sharing the music, spontaneity, and excitement of that night. They perform classics such “Great Balls of Fire,” “I’ll Walk the Line,” “Riders in the Sky,” “Hound Dog,” “Peace in the Valley,” “Blue Suede Shoes,” and many more. Watching them perform, in the show’s elaborate Sun Records Studio set, I felt, even if only for a moment, that I was getting a personal glimpse of what they actually shared together that night. It was awesome!

Lindsey Perenchio plays Dyanna, representing the girl accompanying Elvis that day. She adds her considerable musical talents to the  musical repertoire of the jam session performing “Fever” and “I Hear You Knocking.” In addition, her character adds a special dimension and perspective to the dramatic aspects of the show, both from a potential romantic aspect to the more practical, when she interacts with the other characters as the story unfolds.

As timeless and wonderful as the music is, it is the storyline, the historical moment it describes and the way it is artfully woven into the musical tapestry surrounding it that makes this such an entertaining show. Matt Joyce as Sam Phillips, the founder of Sun Records, the man some call the “Father of rock n’ roll,” and the person who actually set the circumstances in motion that resulted in the jam session, does a superb job of dramatically narrating the story and tying its diverse elements together in a manner that kept me keenly invested throughout the entire performance.

The story’s  filled with interesting antidotes and historical facts about not only what happened that day, but the artists involved, how the record industry worked at that time, and the early history of rock n’ roll. Among them is how the four musical icons came to be together that day for the impromptu jam session; the angst Carl Perkins, the old man of the group at 24, felt towards Elvis Presley over Blue Suede Shoes; why Johnny Cash was leaving Sun Records for Columbia Records; the answer to the question in everyone’s mind of why Phillips sold Elvis Presley’s contract to RCA for $40,000 in 1955; the jealousy some felt about the emphasis Phillips placed on Elvis Presley, and more. Watching the relationship between Jerry Lee Lewis, the brash outspoken rookie of the group, and the others evolve is a hoot.

It’s nonstop fun, drama, great music, and entertainment from beginning to end with no intermission. Oh, and a word to the wise, remember the admonition of Yogi Berra who said, “It ain’t over till it’s over. Don’t want to spoil the surprise, but “Wait for it” because it’s a grand ending to an absolutely delightful and completely entertaining show that ends all too quickly.

The Million Dollar Quartet‘s 2018 season runs from March 14 through December 30. For additional information or tickets for please contact the Branson Tourism Center, one of Branson’s largest and most respected vacation planning services, by calling 1-800-785-1550, or by visiting www.BransonTourismCenter.com.

Best Branson Insider Highlights for February 2018

One of the “big cats” at the National Tiger Sanctuary, the Titanic Museum Attractions’s full scale replica the Titanic’s “Grand Staircase, and the Grand Jubilee’s award winning quartet “New South.”

“With more shows starting to open for their 2018 season, Valentine’s Day, the long President’s Day Weekend, and smaller crowds, February is an ideal time to visit Branson ” said Preston Garrison, Business Unit Manager for the Branson Tourism Center. “It’s hard to imagine a more romantic place to celebrate Valentine’s Day or a better shopping destination during President’s Day Weekend,” he added.

Garrison also points out that many of Branson’s great shows will be open, or opening, during February. In fact, the beginning blush of Branson’s 2018 live show season with the opening of some of its most popular shows in February is our “Featured Show” of the month. Among the shows joining Grand Country’s Amazing Pets, Branson Country USA, Comedy Jamboree, and Grand Jubilee which premiered their 2018 shows in January, will be the following, sorted by opening date:*:

SIX (Feb 1)
Creedence Clearwater Revival Tribute Show (Feb 1)
Legends in Concert (Feb 2)
Eagles Tribute Concert (Feb 2)
Motown Downtown (Feb 9)
The Haygoods (Feb 10)
Doo Wop and the Drifters (Feb 10)
Ozarks Gospel (Feb 11)
Branson Murder Mystery Dinner Show (Feb 13)
The Blackwoods (Feb 14)
Dolly Parton’s Stampede (Feb 23)
Ozarks Country (Feb 25)

Please check schedule for specific times and changes.

Many of Branson’s major attractions are open year round providing a myriad of opportunity for fun and adventure. These include, but are certainly not limited to the Butterfly Palace & Rainforest Adventure, Fritz’s Adventure, Main Street Lake Cruises Landing Princess, National Tiger Sanctuary, Shepherd of the Hills ATV Adventures, Titanic Museum Attraction, World’s Largest Toy Museum Complex and dozens more.

Featured Event of the Month: VisionCon 2018 continues a two decade only tradition of being Missouri’s premier comic book, science fiction, fantasy, live action, role playing, and gaming convention. Being held at the Branson Convention center, more than 4,000 people will attend with one common goal, having fun and raising money for local charities.

Special Event Highlights (Sorted by starting date.)

Feb 1-25: Off-Road Ozark ATV Adventures
Feb 14 & 17: Valentine’s Day Cruise on Main Street Marina’s luxury yacht The Landing Princess
Feb 14: Happy Valentines Day
Feb 14: Valentine’s Day Dinner at Keeter Center
Feb 15-19:  President’s Day Weekend Sale – Tanger Outlets
Feb 23-25: VisionCon 2018- Gaming, Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Anime Convention
Feb 25: Vince Elfrink Memorial Tournament – Lilleys’ Landing

Branson Tourism Center’s Garrison advises that weather and seasonal show, attraction and lodging availability are important things to consider when planning a trip to Branson during the winter months. He suggests calling the Branson Tourism Center, toll-free at 1-800-785-1550, and talking with one of their Branson-based Vacation Planning specialists. They’ll answer any questions and help with show reservations, ticketing and lodging. There’s no charge for this service.

 

Three ways to beat the Winter Blues in Branson

Just four of the amazing ways to beat the Winter Blues in Branson.

“Especially with the extremely cold weather we’ve had this year, keeping many indoors, cases of the “Winter Blues abound,” said Preston Garrison, Business Unit Manager, for the Branson Tourism Center. “An article entitled Got The Post-Holiday Blues? Here’s How To Beat ‘Em, by Catherine Pearson, published in the Huffington Post suggests that one thing people can do to help beat the blues is to “‘Get their pamper on’ by giving themselves a break.” Here’s three ways Branson can help you relax, have fun, and escape those winter blues:

1.  Just Getting Away from Home and Relaxing: Branson offers a wide variety of resorts, hotels, cabins, condos, and bed and breakfasts. From the quiet and soothing comfort of the Welk Resort, with its recently redecorated and updated rooms and its separate 10,000-square-foot “Splash-A-Torium; the Grand Country Inn with its “Splash Country Indoor Waterpark” and “Fun Spot Amusement Center” with an indoor go kart ride; and dozens of places in between; there’s a perfect place to stay that will provide just the relaxing fun filled experience you need to shake those winter blues.

2. Shopping: Would a little shopping therapy ease those blues? With hundreds of places to shop, Branson is a shopper’s paradise just about any time of year, but even more so during the slower-paced winter season. It’s hard to beat the reduced prices on clothing, housewares, designer shoes, gifts, luggage, and other unique merchandise at Tanger Outlets or The Shoppes at Branson Meadows. Add a unique assortment of flea markets, craft shops, boutiques, art galleries, local eateries, and other specialty shops, including the famous Dick’s 5 & 10, and Branson Landing’s department stores, galleries, and shops, along with lakefront dining establishments, and it’s hard to imagine a better shopping experience than that available in Branson!

3.  Fun, Adventure, and Entertainment: Branson offers an unrivaled choice of activities and entertainment, like shows, attractions, museums, scenic walking trails, and so much more whether its winter or summer. How about an entertaining evening at one of Branson’s great shows, such as the Grand Jubilee, with the vocals of Jackie Brown, the harmonies of the New South Quartet, the sound of the Grand Band, and the comedy of the multi-talented Jamie Haage, a.k.a, Jim Dandy? How about an exciting “voyage” aboard the Titanic Museum Attraction, spending some time with the big cats at the National Tiger Sanctuary, or enjoying anyone of the dozens of other exciting activities and attractions Branson offers.

What better way to pamper yourself or take a break than an enjoyable getaway to Branson, Missouri? All it takes to plan your Branson escape is one toll-free phone call to the Branson Tourism Center, and talking with one of their Branson-based Travel Planners who will be delighted to assist you in planning the perfect Branson getaway. BTC can be reached by calling 1-800-785-1550 from 8:00 AM to 9:30 PM seven days a week, or through its website www.BransonTourismCenter.com.

Up-Close and Personal with the Million Dollar Quartet’s John Countryman

Cast of the Million Dollar Quartet Sara Tweedle as Dyanna, Tyler K. Hunter as Elvis Presley, Cliff Wright as Johnny Cash, and John Countryman as Jerry Lee Lewis.

One of Branson’s most popular shows, the Million Dollar Quartet tells the story of one of the greatest jam sessions in rock ‘n’ roll history, an impromptu gathering of four young recording legends-to-be, Carl Perkins, Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, and Jerry Lee Lewis. It took place 51 years ago this week, on December 4, 1956, in the Memphis storefront recording studio of Sun Records.

It went largely unnoticed until recordings of the event were discovered and released decades later. It is that jam session, those recordings, and the four rock ‘n’ roll legends involved, that became the inspiration for the Tony Award winning musical Million Dollar Quartet. The show shares the music, excitement, and drama of what happened that day, as these four legends performed together for their first and, last time.

Recently, John Countryman (JC), the tribute artist playing Jerry Lee Lewis in the Branson production of the Million Dollar Quartet, was kind enough to take time from his busy schedule to do an interview for a Branson – Up Close and Personal, a service of the Branson Tourism Center (BTC), one of Branson’s largest and most respected vacation planning services. It’s intended to provide an “up close and personal look” at a Branson star or personality and uses a “Question and Answer” format.

BTC: If you could meet and perform with anyone, living or dead, who would it be and why?
JC: I’d go with Leon Russell because I like the old ‘rock and rollers.’ I got to meet him shortly before died.

BTC: What do you like most about performing Jerry Lee Lewis in the Million Dollar Quartet?
JC: It’s fun! Everyone else in the session, Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, and Ray Perkins were established performers, but Jerry Lee’s career, at that point, was just starting. He was only there because he was doing some session work for Ray Perkins, but he knew everything and wanted everyone to know that he did. It’s so much fun to play the role as I push everyone’s button.

BTC: Whether you’re in it or not, what’s your favorite part of the Million Dollar Quartet?
JC: The very end of the show when we do the mini concert with four songs back to back.

BTC: Why should someone coming to Branson plan to see the Million Dollar Quartet?
JC: It’s 90 nonstop minutes of fun and exciting live rock ‘n’ roll music, humor, great entertainment, and a history lesson about some of the coolest guys you’re ever going to hear about. I have been in a lot of productions and about 800 performances of the Million Dollar Quartet. The caliber of everyone in this cast is fantastic and it’s one of the best I have every performed with.

BTC: Where were you born?
JC: Newport News, Virginia

BTC: When?
JC: September 11, 1989.

BTC: When did you first become interested in music?
JC: My mom was a music teacher, mom and dad sang in the choir in church, and there are pictures of me playing the piano when I was a baby, but I was 12 years old when I really decided to get serious and started practicing playing the way I do now.

BTC: Do you have any formal musical training?
JC: Just a couple of music lessons before I was 12 years old. Although my mom was a music teacher, the lessons were from another lady. We, myself and four brothers, were homeschooled by my mom so she thought it would be a good idea to get the music lessons from someone else.

BTC: When did you first become interested in Jerry Lee Lewis and why?
JC: When I first started playing the piano because, “He’s the man!” He was also “kind of dangerous,” played rock ‘n’ roll, and my mom suggested taking a look at his music. Once I played “Great Balls of Fire” I was hooked.”

BTC: When did you first perform publicly?
JC: At a home school convention talent show case in Winston Salem, North Carolina when I was about 15 or 16. I did a Jerry Lee Lewis medley that had Great Balls of Fire and Whole Lotta of Shakin’ Goin’ On‘ in it.

BTC: When did you first start performing professionally?
JC: In 2009 when I played with the Dirty Names Band. I played with them for about a year and a half. I left for many different reasons and took a job in a bank.

BTC: How did you end up in the Million Dollar Quartet?
JC: Shortly after starting with the bank, I got a call to audition for the Tony Award® winning hit Broadway show and the rest is history. In 2013, I went on the National Tour with the show and have been performing in it ever since.

BTC: Whether sung in the Million Dollar Quartet show or not, what is your favorite Jerry Lee Lewis song?
JC: The obvious answer would be songs like Great Balls of Fire and A Whole Lotat of Shakin’ Goin’ On, but I like some of his deeper cuts. His version of the Hank Williams song, Jambalaya from ‘Live at the International Hotel’ is one of my favorites.

BTC: What’s your favorite genre of music?
JC: Boogie-Woogie and Rock ‘N’ Roll.

BTC: Jerry Lee Lewis or not, what’s your favorite song?
JC: I really like the song Freight Train Boogie by Doc Watson.

BTC: If you could influence someone to remember one thing about Jerry Lee Lewis or his music, what would it be?
JC: The power’s in the left hand. Boogie-woogie involves a repeating bass pattern from the left and throughout. It’s that pattern that’s the music’s soul.

BTC: Prior to coming to Branson you were performing in Chicago. How did you end up in Branson?
JC: I was performing in the Chicago production of Million Dollar Quartet the first time I had a chance to do the show in Branson. I turned it down to stay in Chicago, but it closed a few months later and I had been performing the role in regional productions of the show when the Branson opportunity opened up. I was exhilarated when I got the chance to play the role in Branson and it’s been a great experience so far.

BTC: When was your first time in Branson?
JC: In the spring of this year. I had never been to Branson before and arrived on Friday just before we started rehearsals on Monday.

BTC: What was your first impression of Branson?
JC: It’s so beautiful and the people so friendly.

BTC: What do you like the most about Branson?
JC: I just love to play music, so I just love it that “you can’t throw a rock’” without hitting a musician.”.

BTC: What’s your favorite thing to do in Branson when you are not performing?
JC: Play music.

For more information on the Million Dollar Quartet and other amazing Branson shows, attractions, or lodging, please call one of Branson Tourism Center’s Branson based Travel Planners at 1-800-875-1550. They will be delighted to answer any questions you might have about Branson, its shows, hotels, or attractions and assist you with reservations to help ensure that you obtain the best available seating at shows and the accommodations you desire. There is no charge for this service and they are available daily, except Christmas Day, from 8:00 AM to 9:30 PM.