Category Archives: General

Who does Stacey Whitton Summers think she is?

Stacy Whitton, as Marilyn Monroe, making her grand entrance.

Well, that depends. Offstage Stacey is a wife, business entrepreneur, and more. Onstage, it’s a different story. As an internationally known tribute, transformation, artist with Legends in Concert, Stacey can be any one of a variety of artists on any given day.


She has so much talent and versatility that she plays multiple “legends” for “Legends in Concert” all over the world. In Branson’s Legends in Concert show, she did the Pat Benetar tribute for the summer lineup and is currently performing Marilyn Monroe in the fall line up through October 25. When she leaves Branson, she will be playing Martina McBride with the Myrtle Beach Legends in concert show for their Christmas show.


Stacey (SWS)was kind enough to take time from her busy schedule to interview for Branson – Up Close and Personal, a service of the Branson Tourism Center (BTC). It’s intended to provide an “up close and personal look” at a Branson star or personality and uses a “Question and Answer” format. The questions were asked on behalf of BTC by Gary J. Groman, local columnist and writer, who has been writing about the Branson entertainment scene for over two decades.


BTC: Do you prefer to be called a “tribute artist” or something else, and why?

SWS: You could refer to me as a tribute artist /impersonator, but I think the term “transformation artist” describes what I do the best. It’s more than a tribute when you are portraying another person incorporating their look, sound, body language, and essence. For me, it’s more a transformation than anything else.


BTC: How long have you been performing as a transformation artist with Legends in Concert?

SWS: Since 1994.


BTC How many “legends” do you perform?

SWS: I do six.


BTC: Who are they?

SWS: I started with Marilyn Monroe, then Shania Twain. In 2009, I did Gretchen Wilson and Marilyn in the same Legends in Concert show right at this theatre. It was fun because people didn’t know it was the same person until I came out for the Finale. In 2010 I started doing Martina McBride with Katy Perry and Pat Benatar following.


BTC: Who’s next?

SWS: I don’t really know. I don’t look for it. It depends on what the market wants. If I don’t believe myself in the mirror and feel the essence of the character, then I’m not going to do them.


BTC: Which one do you enjoy performing the most, and why?

SWS: That’s a tough one for me. They all bring something that’s fun, entertaining, and fulfilling. I think my favorite musically is Pat Benetar because she is the most natural for me and I feel fulfilled singing rock music. In terms of acting, Marily Monore and Gretchen Wilson are my favorites. They each have a huge personality that excites people, and the audience can’t wait to see if you can pull it off.


BTC: Outside of the artists that you perform tributes of, if you could meet and perform with anyone, living or dead, who would it be and why?

SWS: Garth Brooks. I love sentimental songs, his exciting energy, beautiful melodies, and he’s also a great duet artist.


Marilyn Monroe, interacting with a lucky audience member.

BTC: What do you like most about your performance of your Marilyn Monroe Tribute in the 2019 edition of Branson’s Legends in Concert?

SWS: Marilyn was bigger than life, musical and funny. I love that I get to share that with the audience both musically and through improv and audience interaction.


BTC: What do you enjoy most about being a tribute artist for Legends in Concert?

SWS: I enjoy the fact that they are a family company, integrous, treat their people so well, and that I have been with them for 25 years.


BTC: Why should someone coming to Branson plan to see the Legends in Concert show?

SWS: They get the most bang for the buck. They get a variety of music presented by some of the best tribute artists in the world in a full production show. We go beyond what the usual tribute artist does by recreating the whole icon, their sound, look, essence, and energy in a full production Las Vegas-style show.


BTC: What is Whittton De Fleur?

SWS: It’s a sideline business of handmade hand died accessory line of vintage style broaches, each of which is handcrafted by me. They’re for people who really like flowers and are available online through www.WhittonDeFleurDesigns and in some of the Legends in Concert gift shops. Each item is a personal creation by me.


Stacey will be performing Marilyn Monroe in the Branson Legends in Concert Show through October 25. She will be performing Martina McBride in the Myrtle Beach Legends in Concert Christmas show.


The spectacular Christmas lineup for Branson’s Legends in Concert 2019 Christmas show includes Garth Brooks, Trisha Yearwood, Elvis, the Blues Brothers, and Stevie Wonder.


For more information on Branson’s Legends in Concert show, please contact Branson.Com at 800-785-1610 or through their website. is currently running a special on Legends in Concert tickets, buy one and get the next one at half price.

What you really need to know about The Shepherd of the Hills!

Scene from the “Shepherd of the Hills Outdoor Drama” with the Baldknobbers burning cabin.

“The Shepherd of the Hills,” Harold Bell Wright’s bestselling 1907 novel, about life in the late 1800’s Ozarks, love, and forgiveness was the beginning of tourism in the Branson area, before Branson was even a city. The Shepherd of the Hills Homestead and surrounding area, where Wright penned his novel and whose life and people it’s about, has been a constant source of tourism and interest for over a century. Here’s a few reasons why:

The Shepherd of the Hills Outdoor Drama started performing in the Ole Mill Theatre in a hollow on the Homestead in 1960. The drama presents Wright’s novel in an exciting action-packed production with a cast of more than 90 performers; dozens of animals including, horses, donkeys, mules, and sheep presented in an outdoor amphitheater, covered by the stars, and surrounded by the very hills Wright wrote about.

This legendary tale of love, Ozarks life and heritage inspires as it entertains and will be remembered for a lifetime. Its 2019 season starts on May 18 and runs through October 19. For more information please go to

The Shepherd of the Hills Historic Homestead Tour: A fantastic daytime activity touring the historic Homestead and set where one of Branson’s favorite nighttime shows happens! The tour sets the stage for the outdoor drama, The Shepherd of the Hills, and gives you a behind-the-scenes glimpse into this legendary production and much more. You’ll take a tram across the trail of the homestead with an experienced guide, learning interesting details about several different landmarks, including Old Matt’s Cabin, the original home of the story’s main characters. It visits Inspiration Point, the site is where Wright compiled the notes for his book and see statues of the key characters in the story and a monument honoring Harold Bell Wright, the author of ” The Shepherd of the Hills


ATV Adventure.

Shepherd with the Hills ATV Adventures: An ATV experience like no other, with two different “adventures” from which to select. Beginners to ATV’s can take a single hour excursion. The first 30 minutes includes instruction, tips, and practice on how to operate the ATV on pavement. The last 30 minutes is fun and adventure into the backwoods trails of the Homestead. If one hour’s not enough there is an hour and a half excursion including one “hour of deep off-roading that’ll make the hair on the back of your neck stand on end.” All the off road trail rides, excursions, are a guided and led by Shepherd of the Hills staff.

Shepherd of the Hills Inspiration Tower: This iconic tower is 230 feet tall and sits on top of an Ozarks’ mountain high above beautiful Ozarks scenery and Branson. Constructed in 1989 to celebrate the 100th anniversary of famed author, Harold Bell Wright, the impressive structure incorporates more than 92,000 pounds of steel, can withstand a continual wind of 172 miles per hour or gusts of up to 224 miles per hour and includes more than 4,400 square feet of glass; enough to cover a third of a football field.

The Shepherd of the Hills Adventure Park features a Zipline Canopy Tour, Rope Course, and Lil Pete’s Playland. They offer a choice of fun and adventure for every member of the family.

Shepherd of the Hills Inspiration Tower: This iconic tower is 230 feet tall and sits on top of an Ozarks’ mountain high above beautiful Ozarks scenery and Branson. Constructed in 1989 to celebrate the 100th anniversary of famed author, Harold Bell Wright, the impressive structure incorporates more than 92,000 pounds of steel, can withstand a continual wind of 172 miles per hour or gusts of up to 224 miles per hour and includes more than 4,400 square feet of glass; enough to cover a third of a football field.

The Shepherd of the Hills Adventure Park features a Zipline Canopy Tour, Rope Course, and Lil Pete’s Playland. They offer a choice of fun and adventure for every member of the family.

For further information, tickets, or reservations for Shepherd of the Hills activities or any of Branson’s other shows, attractions, or lodging please call the Branson Tourism Center at 800-785-1550 for assistance.


What could be more amazing fun than Christmas Week in Branson?

Many of Branson’s most popular shows will be open Christmas Week.

What could be more amazing fun than Christmas Week in Branson?

“Not much! If you’re looking for excitement, fun, and entertainment during your Christmas vacation then Christmas Week, the week between Christmas Day and New Year’s Day, in Branson is the place for you!” said Preston Garrison, Business Unit Manager, for the Branson Tourism Center. He points out that although there’s a misconception that there’s not much to do in Branson during Christmas Week, that’s simply not the case.

Although many of Branson’s shows are closed, many of its most popular shows are open, as is Silver Dollar City with its Old Time Christmas, and most of Branson’s other attractions. From butterflies and tigers; to drive through Christmas lighting displays; acrobats; museums; world class shopping; golfing, indoor and out, weather permitting; and New Year’s Eve celebrations, Christmas Week in Branson is full of the fun, entertainment, and shopping that Branson is noted for.

Here’s a list summarizing just some of the major highlights:

Branson Shows: Although many of Branson’s shows are closed for the season, some of Branson’s most popular shows will be open during Christmas Week. Among others, this includes, in alphabetical order, Amazing Acrobats of Shanghai, Amazing Pets, Clay Cooper’s Country Music Express, Comedy Jamboree, Dixie Stampede, Grand Jubilee, Hamner’s Unbelievable Variety, Million Dollar Quartet, The Haygoods, Hughes Brothers Christmas Show, Legends in Concert, Pierce Arrow‘s “Decades,” Samson, and the Showboat Branson Belle.

Silver Dollar City’s Old Time Christmas Festival: Silver Dollar City’s Old Time Christmas Festival is one of the Nation’s top Christmas events. The award winning 1880s styled theme park is aglow with over 6.5 million sparkling Christmas lights, including 1.5 million added just last year for its spectacular “Christmas in Midtown.” The park’s Broadway styled shows including “A Dickens’ Christmas Carol’ and “It’s A Wonderful Life;” unique shopping; food; weather permitting, dozens of exciting rides; and demonstrating craftsmen are just some of what the Festival offers. At dusk, each evening, the 5-Story Special Effects Christmas Tree in the city square comes to life, with its 350,000 colorful sparkling LED lights, choreographed to Christmas music, and making over 100 light changes per second. “The most famous reindeer of all” leads Rudolph’s Holly Jolly™ Christmas Light Parade through the square. The parade amazes with its musical floats, illuminated with 200,000 ultra-bright LED lights; 33 colorful costumed characters, including Bumble the Abominable Snow Monster, 14-foot moose characters, 12-foot tall elves and 10-foot candy canes, penguins, and a troupe of marching wooden soldiers.”

Spectacular Christmas Lighting Displays: Evan after Christmas Day, Branson’s spectacular major drive through Christmas lighting displays will remain open through Christmas Week. These include the Shepherd of the Hills Trail of Lights, Branson’s Gift of Lights, the giant 30 foot illuminated nativity scene on top of Mount Branson overlooking Lake Taneycomo and historic downtown Branson.

Branson Attractions: The vast majority of Branson’s attractions will be open. This includes its oldest and most popular paid attraction, the international award winning Silver Dollar City presenting its “Old Time Christmas;” the Titanic Museum Attraction decked out for its beautiful “Edwardian Christmas;” the unique White Flight exhibit at the Butterfly Palace & Rainforest Adventure; National Tiger Sanctuary; World’s Largest Toy Museum Complex and many more.

Branson Shopping: Branson’s legendary shopping is “always” open and Branson’s Christmas Week is no exception. From the outlet malls such as “Tanger Outlet” and “The Meadows” and the unique “Branson Landing,” with its 100 retail stores, restaurants and entertainment venues; to the shops of Historic Downtown Branson, featuring “Dicks 5 & 10;” and specialty shops offering arts and crafts and one of a kind items, Branson’s Christmas week shopping should not only satisfy the most avid shopper, but just might have a few “after Christmas sales” to boot.

New Years Eve – In addition to other New Year’s Eve celebrations, among other, the following shows will have special New Year’s Eve celebrations:

Dec 30:  Hughes Brothers New Years Eve Party
Dec 31:  Main Street Lake Cruises Landing Princess
Dec 31:  Legends in Concert
Dec 31:  Americana New Year’s Eve Show
Dec 31:  Clay-Goods Jambor-Eve
Dec 31:  Hamners’ Unbelievable Variety (New Year’s Eve Fiesta)
Dec 31:  Pierce Arrow

BTC’s Garrison points out that the off season scheduling of shows, limited seating; possibility of winter weather, and the fact that some Branson lodging facilities are closed requires some thought and advance planning. He suggests that an easy way to get the most current information, avoid problems, save time and, in many cases money, is by simply calling the Branson Tourism Center, toll free at 1-800-785-1550 and talking with one of their Branson based Travel Planners who will be delighted to answer any questions and assist in making any show or lodging reservations. There is absolutely no charge for this service.


Grand Jubilee is more than “grand,” it’s amazing entertainment!

New South, Jamie Haage and Mike Patrick, Luke Menard and David Regan, and Jackie Brown.

Continuing a 16 year tradition of opening Branson’s new show season, the Grand Jubilee premiered its 2018 show as part of their New Year’s Eve celebration and, except for a short vacation break, is in full swing with their 2018 season. Mike Patrick, the show’s producer and MC said that in developing the show, the challenge is to keep the things that their audiences like and expect and work fresh new elements and numbers into the show.

Having just seen it earlier this month and observed the audiences reaction, it’s obvious that he has done just that. It’s an extremely fast moving show, showcasing great music and hilarious comedy all performed by an award winning cast that just resonates with their audience. The blend of music, colorful costumes, strategically blended in with the hijinks and comedy of “Jim Dandy” and MC Mike Patrick, results in two of the fastest and finest hours of entertainment on any Branson Stage. It is one of those rare Branson shows that simultaneously entertains both adults and children throughout the majority of the show.

New South, Grand Jubilee’s award wining quartet is composed of Lead Vocalist, David Ragan; Tenor, Luke Menard; Baritone Jon Drockelman; and Bass, Mark McCauley. They sing a variety of music from gospel to pop, patriotic, and rock and roll and do it so beautifully. From many, two of my favorite highlights was their medley of Bobbie Sue, All The Gold in California, Tomorrow Never Comes, and Mountain Music. Their unique version of Hallelujah is simply breath taking! Jackie Brown, the shows award winning vocalist shines as she sings a number of songs with my favorite being the Patty Loveless classic, Timber, I’m Falling In Love.

“The Grand Band,” affectionately called “The Rhinestone Mafia,” is blessed with some of the finest musicians in Branson; Michael W. Davis, Piano/Keyboard & Vocals; Wayne Massengale, Fiddle and Acoustic Guitar; Larry Allred, Bass Guitar; Rob Blackburn, Drums; Chad Cathell, Lead Guitar, Acoustic Guitar and Gene Mulvaney, Steel Guitar, Electric Guitar, Banjo and Band Director. Their talent is evident throughout the show as they accompany the vocalists and have solo features with the vocalists. Their talent and “personality” adds a wonderful dimension to the show.

If the music was all there was, that would be enough, but there’s more, the comedy talents of Jamie Haage, as “Jim Dandy.” He, and his straight man “Mike Patrick,” have the audience rolling in laughter throughout the show with their comedy. Just as amazing and entertaining, is the metamorphosis of multi-talented Haage as he surprises the audience with his wide range of musical talents.

There’s just something special about this show! In a previous story I wrote, “From the intimacy of the Grand Country Music Hall, the entire cast coming out during intermission to meet the audience, talk, and sign autographs, and the way the cast relates to the audience during the show, this is a “close up” entertainment experience where it is obvious that both the audience and the entertainers are having fun!” That has not changed one IOTA! This is a unique Branson entertainment experience that should not be missed.

For more information on the Grand Jubilee 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 over 5 million Branson show and attraction tickets by calling 1-800-785-1550 or through their website

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

End of Season Branson Show Guide for 2017

The “Million Dollar Quarter;” Ambrus Presley and Chuck Crain singing “Mary Did You Know”  during the “Presleys’ Country Jubilee Christmas show;” Jason Hughes and family performing in the “Hughes Brothers Christmas Show,” and Sharon Owens as, “Barbara Streisand,” in “Legends In Concert.”

“Wow, it’s near the end of the 2017 Branson show season already,” said Preston Garrison, Director of Operations for the Branson Tourism Center, one of Branson’s largest providers of tourism services and information. “As the season winds down, some of our most popular shows will be ending their season over the next two weeks however, many will be open through Christmas week and up through New Year’s Eve.

Here is a list of the last date in 2017 that some of Branson’s most popular shows will be performing. It’s sorted chronologically by week(s), starting on December 3 and ending on Dec. 31. Within each week it’s sorted date. We’ve followed it up with a list of some of Branson’s most popular New Year’s Eve shows and celebrations:


The Lettermen: Dec. 9
Down Home Country: Dec  15
Andy Williams Christmas Extravaganza: Dec. 16


Ozarks Gospel: Dec. 10
Ozarks Country: Dec. 10
New South Gospel: Dec. 14
Branson Country USA: Dec. 15
Presleys’ Country Jubilee: Dec. 16
New Jersey Nights: Dec. 16
Christmas Wonderland: Dec. 17


Puttin’ on the Ritz: Dec. 17
Dublin’s Irish Tenors and The Celtic Ladies: Dec. 22
SIX: Dec. 22


Reza Edge of Illusion: Dec 28
Clay Cooper’s Country Express: Dec. 29*
Hughes Brothers Christmas Show: Dec. 29
Acrobats of China: Dec.  30
Grand Jubilee: Dec. 30*
The Haygoods: Dec. 30*
Million Dollar Quartet: Dec. 30
Miracle of Christmas: Dec. 30
The Blackwoods Morning Show: Dec. 30
Acrobats of China: Dec. 31
Amazing Pets: Dec. 31
Comedy Jamboree: Dec. 31
Dixie Stampede: Dec. 31
Legends in Concert: Dec. 31*
Showboat Branson Belle: Dec. 31


Hughes Brother’s New Year’s Eve Party: Dec. 30
Bill Anderson and Friends

Clay-Goods Jambor-Eve (Clay Cooper and Haygoods joint celebration)
Grand Jubilee
Legends in Concert
Main Street Lake Cruises Landing Princess
Americana New Year’s Eve Show
Hamners’ Unbelievable Variety Show
Pierce Arrow New Year’s Eve Celebration

 * Has New Year’s Eve celebration. Clay Cooper & Haygoods celebrating jointly

Branson Tourism Center’s Garrison points out that weather, abbreviated Christmas show schedules, and availability are excellent reasons to, not only check the schedule for the show(s) you are interested in but, make advance reservations. He suggests calling 1-800-785-1550 and talking with one of BTC’s Branson based Travel Planners. They will be delighted to answer any questions you might have about Branson, its shows, hotels, or attractions and assist 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. BTC may also be contacted through their website

Last chance to see “Moses” in Branson before the “Miracle of Christmas”

Not wanting to miss a last chance to see Sight and Sound’s amazing Moses again before its last performance in Branson on October 20, my bride and I went to see it last week. Every time I see it I am reminded of what Mike Pitman, the Business Development Manager for Sight and Sound, said about Moses prior to its opening in Branson. “People expect the inspirational and spectacular from Sight & Sound, but Moses takes it to an entirely new level. While maintaining its inspirational biblical perspective, Moses is the most spectacular, technologically advanced, show that Sight & Sound Theaters has ever put on stage,” he said.

In addition, it’s an epic and powerful biblical story with which we are all familiar. It follows Moses on his search for personal identity as he decided to follow his God and, unbeknownst to him at the time, change the course of human history. It’s an adventure back in time to witness some of the greatest moments in biblical history; feel God’s awe-inspiring power as you sit in the midst of the parted Red Sea; and experience the exhilaration and celebration of the Israelites as they brush past you on their way to freedom and the promised land.

The story is told as only Sight and Sound can! It has incredible special effects throughout that leave people asking, “How did they do that?” But it has so much more too. The colorful costuming, 360 foot surround stage, magnificent sets, live animals, and outstanding dramatic and vocal performances by the cast, resulting in a spectacular entertainment experience that the whole family will enjoy.


One of the many inspiring and spectacular scenes from Sight and Sound’s “Miracle of Christmas.”

After Moses closes on October 20 Sight and Sound will be setting up for its Christmas spectacular, Miracle of Christmas which runs from November 4 through December 30. What better way to get in the true Christmas spirit than this inspiring biblical account of the birth of Jesus and the events leading up to it as they explore the human side of His birth and the true “reason for the season.”

It’s a modern production “miracle.” From its very beginning, the audience is swept into a betrothal ceremony displaying the first of the shows spectacular sets, a large two-story edifice surrounding a courtyard in the center of Nazareth. It takes up the entire center of the 20,000-square foot, 300 foot long wrap around stage. The talent of the cast is immediately apparent as Mary and Joseph sing of their love for each other and the cast joins together in a beautiful and lively celebratory dance.

The Miracle of Christmas ends “with flying angels and magnificent music, camels and wise men and shepherds at the manger honoring the Son of God after his birth. It is one of the most spectacular things most people will ever experience on a stage in terms of production, grandeur, entertainment, and sensory appeal. An amazing ending! It’s not only exciting entertainment, but a Christmas blessing for those who know Jesus as their Lord and Savior as well as those who don’t.”

Sight and Sound will be presenting its jaw-dropping production of Samson in Branson for the 2018 season. This amazing biblical story is 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!

For more information on either Moses, Samson, and the Miracle of Christmas, 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

Yakov Smirnoff to make Branson audiences laugh again in 2018

Yakov Smirnoff “supervising” the repair of the “K” on the YAKOV sign during the announcement.

After a two-year absence from his Branson theatre, America’s favorite Russian comedian, Yakov Smirnoff, announced on September 20, 2017, that he would be returning to his theatre in 2018. The announcement was made as he was personally “supervising” the repairs to his theatre sign.

He said, “After touring the world over the last two years and being in Hollywood for a while now, I’ve been missing Branson. Today I put the ‘K,’ that’s been missing from my ‘YAKOV” sign, back up. In 2018, I’m putting my show, that’s been missing from my Branson theatre, back. It’s time to Make America Laugh Again!” With the current political climate between Russia and the United States, America’s favorite Russian comedian has “plenty of new material to keep everyone in stitches.”

Yakov was born in Odessa, Ukraine on January 24, 1951 and brought his comedy to America when he immigrated with his family in 1977. Prior to his latest two-year tour, Yakov had spent 20 seasons entertaining Branson audiences making them come alive with laughter. His comparisons with life in Russia and life in America, along with his philosophy and insights about how “Love and Laughter” go hand in hand and is as funny, interesting, and entertaining.

He said, “If you are aware of the concept that laughter can guide you through life, it can help you tremendously. If you don’t pay attention to who you laugh with and you hang out with people who don’t, your life is not going to be a happy life. Laughter can guide you to the right people. If you are having fun you are doing it right. If you are not having fun you are doing it wrong. It’s as simple as that.”

Yakov will be continuing his worldwide tour, performing and teaching courses on “Happiness and Laughter,” until he returns to perform in Branson from October 13 through November 24, 2018. He is an accomplished artist, holds a Master’s Degree in Psychology from the University of Pennsylvania, and is currently earning his Ph.D. in Psychology and Global Leadership at Pepperdine University.


“Country on the Lake” is so much more than just a show!

Vocal cast of Country on the Lake Ali Lynn Antonetz, right, Santino Tomasetti, Brian Nolf, Kelly White, Kelsie Watts and Brendan Young.

“To describe ‘Country on the Lake’ strictly as a show doesn’t do it justice,” said Preston Garrison, Director of Operations for the Branson Tourism Center. “It’s part of a wonderful entertainment adventure, including the show, cruising Table Rock Lake aboard the 278 foot-long Showboat Branson Belle, and a delicious meal,” he added.

Recently, I had the opportunity to cruise aboard the magnificent Showboat. It’s something I have enjoyed on many occasions in the past but WOW, “What a difference a year makes!”

During her off season, the Showboat underwent Phase One of a two year multi-million dollar “relaunch” project. Nick Guevel, Director of Operations for the Showboat Branson Belle, said it included a complete redo of the theatre and dining area’s carpeting, stage, chairs, wall paper, painting, and an expansion of the premium dining area. It also includes a major modification made to the panoramic windows throughout the boat so that the curtains won’t have to be drawn while guests enjoy the show; and much more.

All I can say is that it’s beautiful. There is more space between seats and I really enjoyed being able to look out the windows during the show. They have even changed the boarding process to eliminate long lines and permit a more relaxed experience from the very beginning.

“Country on the Lake” and its BBQ menu is also part of the “relaunch.” The show, and its menu was developed in response to what research indicated their guests wanted. Soon after boarding, the “Country on the Lake Band” started playing classic country songs as the Showboat’s excellent servers started serving lunch. It includes a great spring mix salad; slow smoked pork, smoked at Silver Dollar City and delivered fresh to the boat each day; BBQ Chicken; loaded baked potatoes; roasted corn; homemade rolls; and ice cream pie for dessert.

After lunch, and ample time to stroll the boat and enjoy the scenery, “Country on the Lake” starts. It uses a straight concert format. It‘s different from the “variety” format typically used on the Showboat’s other shows such as its evening cruise show, “CELEBRATE.” The cast features “some very talented rising Nashville stars backed by a live band performing country hits from Dolly Parton, Glen Campbell, Garth Brooks, The Judds, Trisha Yearwood, Reba McEntire and many more!”

The shows vocalists are Brian Nolf, who also Hosts; Alyssa “Ali Lynn” Antonetz; Santino Tomasetti; Kelsie Watts; Kelly White; and Brendan Young. They are accompanied by the “Country on the Lake Band,” composed of band leader and pianist, Ricki Holmes; guitar player, Grant Moody; fiddle player, Dean Church; drummer, Brian Duvall; and bass player, Austin Wilson

From their opening number, Party on the Lake, to their closing number, the Battle Hymn of the Republic, the talent and passion of this cast is a joy to experience. My custom is to describe three of my favorite highlights from each show I write about in the hope that it will give a feel for what to expect.

Dean Church has been playing the fiddle for Branson audiences for decades. His rendition of the Charlie Daniels hit “Devil Went Down to Georgia,” with the integration of the videos screen on the side was one of the most entertaining and exciting performances of this song that I have every experienced. Two other highlights were Alyssa Antonetz’s performance of the Carrie Underwood hit “All American Girl,” and the all cast Finale including Aaron Tippin’s “Stars & Stripes & Eagles Fly” and the “Battle Hymm of the Republic.”

As we debarked, the cast was there to say, “Hi,” pose for pictures, and sign autographs. From beginning to end the entire experience was a delight. What a great way to start an afternoon in Branson!

For more information or tickets for the Showboat Branson Belle and its shows please contact the Branson Tourism Center. They can be reached by calling 1-800-785-1550 or through their website,


Touring national stars appearing in Branson during balance of 2017

Daniel O’Donnell, Tanya Tucker, Jay Leno, and The Oak Ridge Boys.

“Branson offers a great selection of live shows. How many tourist destinations can match the quality and variety of Branson’s shows?” said, Preston Garrison, Director of Operations for the Branson Tourism Center. “With well over 100 diverse resident shows, there’s quality live entertainment for just about everyone.”

Touring national stars add even more to Branson’s entertainment choices. Although a few perform for longer periods of time, most only perform “limited engagements” for short periods of time. These usually range from one to three days. Most occur between September and December with the increases in the number of people coming to Branson to see the Ozark’s fall foliage, share in “Branson’s Veteran’s Week,” and “Ozark Mountain Christmas.”

To make it easier to see whose performing when, here’s a list of the limited engagement performances for September through December 2017, sorted by the starting date:


Sep 1: Ben & Noel Haggard and The Strangers
Sep 16: Tanya Tucker
Sep 18: Larry’s Country Diner-T. Graham Brown
Sep 19: Larry’s Country Diner-Rhonda Vincent
Sep 20-21: Oak Ridge Boys
Sep 20: Larry’s Country Diner-Gene Watson
Sep 21: Larry’s Country Diner-Jimmy Fortune
Sep 22: Larry’s Country Diner-The Isaacs
Sep 23: Righteous Brothers
Sep 29: Charley Pride


Oct 4-5: Oak Ridge Boys
Oct 5: Dailey and Vincent
Oct 6-7: Herman’s Hermits Starring Peter Noone & B.J. Thomas
Oct 8: America
Oct 11-12: Oak Ridge Boys
Oct 12-13: Boot Daddy Presents Gene Watson
Oct 13: Neal McCoy
Oct 13: Roots and Boots Tour starring Pam Tillis, Sammy Kershaw and Collin Raye
Oct 14: John Michael Montgomery
Oct 14: Sawyer Brown
Oct 15: Sara Evans
Oct 17-18: Boot Daddy Presents Jimmy Fortune
Oct 18: Gary Lewis & The Playboys, Dennis Tufano, and La La Brooks
Oct 20: Bill Engvall
Oct 21: Neil Sedaka
Oct 25: Easton Corbin
Oct 26: Oak Ridge Boys
Oct 27: William Shatner: Shatner’s World
Oct 28: The Golden Boys
Oct 30-31: Daniel O’Donnell
Oct 31: Oak Ridge Boys


Nov 1-18: Daniel O’Donnell
Nov 1-30: Hallmark Presents Maxine’s Christmas Carol
Nov 1: Larry Gatlin & the Gatlin Brothers
Nov 1-2: Neal McCoy
Nov 1-2: Oak Ridge Boys
Nov 3: Charlie Daniels Band
Nov 3: Jay Leno
Nov 7-9: Oak Ridge Boys
Nov 8: Country Unplugged Tour with Joe Diffie, Lorrie Morgan and Mark Chesnutt
Nov 8-9: Neal McCoy
Nov 11: Scotty McCreery
Nov 11-12: Boot Daddy Presents Jimmy Fortune
Nov 12: Paul Anka
Nov 14-16: Oak Ridge Boys
Nov 15: Larry Gatlin & the Gatlin Brothers
Nov 15-16: Neal McCoy
Nov 17-18: Johnny Mathis with Gary Mule Deer


Dec 1-16: Hallmark Presents Maxine’s Christmas Carol
Dec 2: Home Free
Dec 9: Wynonna Judd
Dec 31: Bill Anderson & Friends

WOW, look at the “friends” appearing with Bill Anderson at the Welk Resort Theatre on New Years Eve!

For more information or tickets for any of these shows, please call one of Branson Tourism Center’s  Branson based Vacation Specialists at 1-800-785-1550. They’ll also be delighted to answer questions about Branson, make reservations, and get you the best available show seats and lodging. There is no charge for this service and they’re available daily, except Christmas Day, from 8:00 AM to 9.30 PM.