The Christmas spirit springs alive in Branson shows this week as most begin their Christmas shows. They will not only provide excellent entertainment for you and your family, but fill you with the spirit of the traditional American Christmas and celebrate the “reason for the season.
Among Branson’s Christmas shows, there’s always been something extra special about Shoji Tabuchi’s Christmas show. That’s even more so this year as the show, Celebrate 25 Days of Christmas With the Tabuchis, marks the first time Shoji has performed a show in Branson since a fire damaged his theatre in the Spring of 2017. And, after seeing the show on October 29, all I can say is, “WOW, what a show!”
From Santa Claus arriving on the very first number to the closing, with the “reason for the season,” this show is all about Christmas. Oh there’s a few special Christmas gifts strategically placed throughout the show, audience favorites, such as Through the Eyes of Love, Pure Imagination, and the Orange Blossom Special, but from beginning to the end, this show is a delightful celebration of the joys, spirit, and wonders of Christmas.
In addition to the amazing Shoji Tabuchi, the show features Christina Lingo-Tabuchi as the featured female vocalist. She is also the co-dance captain and co-producer of the show. The show’s entertainers, who add so much to the show, among other things, dance, sing, and, unless my guess is wrong, “magically” appear as reindeer and penguins. They are Kami Ballard, Norvin Breeck (Co-Dance Captain), Jeremy Sterling, and Sharlyn Todd.
The shows live band adds another enjoyable dimension to the show. It consists of Dougie Duggan, Guitar (Band Director), Carl Hose, Trombone, Dan McMasters, Bass, Collin Rozario, Keyboard, and Anthony Walter, Drums. They play in just about every number and featured in many.
The opening number sets the Christmas tenor right away with Here Comes Santa Claus featuring Shoji Tabuchi. What better time to have Santa Claus himself arrive and, to the delight of the audience, especially the kids, come down into the audience and wish them a “Merry Christmas.”
Speaking of kids, they should love this show! There’s the music of Christmas, which most will relate to, and colorful unique costuming. Starting with the arrival of Santa Claus there are strategically placed numbers and things that will excite and entertain kids, such as the march of the drumming toy soldiers, penguins, the Hawaiian reindeer in Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, and when they get a chance to come up on stage, interact with Christina and receive a “little gift.”
The set list for this show covers the full range of Christmas music that celebrates both the fun and excitement of Christmas as well as the “reason for the season.” The fun music of Christmas includes music such as Here Comes Santa Claus, Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer, Frosty The Snowman, Jingle Bells, Reindeer Boogie and others. The inspirational music of Christmas includes, among others, Oh Come All Ye Faithful, Oh Little Town of Bethlehem, and Oh Holy Night.
Interestingly, although there is a mixture of both kinds of music throughout the show, both the first and second half of the show end with versions of Joy to the World. The first half with Shoji and the band playing a unique instrumental arrangement incorporating three variations of music, Latin, Pop, and Rock and the second with the whole cast singing it along with the audience. What an inspirational way to end both halves of the show with the “real reason” for the season.
Fully recognizing that your favorites might be different than mine, and from among many, I typically pick two things from each show that are my favorites. Shoji and the bands instrumental version of Joy to the World, with its different beats and Christina’s rendition of “Oh Holy Night” were as inspiring as they were entertaining. OK, I’ve got to mention two more. The mandolin and violin duet with Shoji and Sharlyn Todd of Christmas Time’s A Comin’ provided a fun change of pace and a bit of bluegrass that I particularly enjoyed. Shoji’s favorite song is Through the Eyes of Love, from the movie “Ice Castles.” I have had the privilege of hearing him play it for over 20 years, it’s my favorite Shoji number, and it always touches my heart. This time was no exception.
Not only is it a special joy to see Shoji performing in Branson again, but particularly to see him continue his legacy of legendary Branson Christmas shows. If, regardless of age, you want to be entertained and celebrate all that is Christmas don’t miss this show. It will be performing at the Clay Cooper Theatre on selected dates through December 21. For more information on Celebrate 25 Days of Christmas With the Tabuchis or other Branson Shows, attractions or lodging please contact the Branson Tourism Center at 1-800-785-1550 or through their website https://www.bransontourismcenter.com/.