Greetings my Loyal Reader(s), and welcome to the latest edition of the Branson Beat, your home for all the news on the Branson entertainment scene.

As always, feel free to drop me a line at jclark@bransontrilakesnews.com, or send me a message via our Branson Tri-Lakes News Facebook page.

Now, let’s get to it. 

Prince Ivan’s new single  

Early Friday morning, national touring act and local favorites Prince Ivan, featuring Brydon Brett and Aaron Ellsworth, released their latest single, “Get to You,” on local radio, as well as online. 

I got a “sneak preview” of the song last week, and while it may be a bold statement, I believe this is the group’s most complete work, and should usher them into another level of creativity and success.

According to Brett, “Get to You” is the lead single on their first, full length album, titled “The Preface,” which is set to be released sometime this summer.

“It’s a new day for Prince Ivan, and we’re trying to take this thing into the stratosphere,” Brett said. “The rest of the album is really dope too, and ‘Get to You’ is just the beginning.”

In my modest opinion, it’s pretty evident from hearing the new song the band is entering a new direction, creatively.

“It’s more mature, for sure,” Brett said. “It still allows us to connect with our current audience, that we love so much, but also reaches out to a whole new audience, and that’s what we’re trying to do, reach as many people as possible.”

Brett said they’re about “halfway” done with the recording, mixing and mastering process.

“We worked with a Grammy  award-winning songwriter and producer in L.A., other professional songwriters, and my brother Garon is also on the writing team, so it’s going to be next level,” Brett said. “It will be 12 new, original songs, with the exception of ‘Warriors,’ which was kind of our debut as a duo. 

“But yeah, new songs, complete with introductions and musical interludes, so it’s going to be pretty cool.”

I don’t know about my Loyal Reader(s) out there, but I’m a huge fan of musical interludes.

Prince Ivan began several years back when entertainers Ellsworth and Brett met at Southern Virginia University and began writing songs together. Once Brydon’s brother Garon Brett got into the mix, it all clicked. 

“The name came from our 3-year-old nephew, Ivan,” Brett said. “We want to create new music that is really cool, fresh and that anyone can relate to, especially the kids who listen to mainstream radio, but do it in a way that we’d never be embarrassed to show it to Ivan.”

Adding Prince in front of the name “just sounded cool,” Brett added.

The group soon began making appearances in “The Bretts Show,” and a production of their own wasn’t far behind. In fact, they headlined many dates over the last few seasons at the Mickey Gilley Grand Shanghai Theatre.

In addition to the new album, Prince Ivan is also headlining a show set to benefit Gift of Hope June 20.

The Gift of Hope is an organization that serves families that find themselves in less than ideal circumstances, and provides them essentials and pathways to independence. 

Currently, Gift of Hope fulfills its mission as a change agent in Southern Missouri through programs including Backpack Club, Cents of Pride, Scholarships, and Christmas Share. 

“Get to You” is available online, and is set to be in rotation locally on 100.1, KOMC.

Visit princeivan.com for the latest on all things Prince Ivan.

‘Opera Girl’ Eva Mayor releases debut album 

Missouri native and Branson resident Eva Mayor, also known as “Opera Girl,” recently released her first album,  “Timeless,” according to a press release. 

Mayor’s dream began at age 11 when she decided she wanted to sing opera, as well as perform on the biggest stages in the world. Through the help of “world class vocal coaches,” including training at the Manhattan School of Music, Mayor caught the attention of Ermonela Jaho, one the “worlds most acclaimed” sopranos, according to The Economist. 

He then sent Mayor a letter, which stated, in part, to “always keep on singing from your soul and the world will listen.” 

Mayor’s career as an entertainer began to take off, and she was soon performing on theater stages in Branson, including at the Dutton Family Theatre, the Jim Stafford Theatre, and the Mansion Theater, where she performed for the veterans during last year’s “Walmart Tribute to the Veterans Show” at the Mansion Theatre.

She even recorded a duet with Branson mainstay George Dyer for her album.

“I was honored to sing a duet with world-class, award-winning tenor Mr. George Dyer on my album,” she said in the release. “(Dyer) has also been a great friend and mentor to me.”

Mayor is currently working with manager Gerard Cole, best known for his work as a manager Voices of Glory, “America’s Got Talent” and Branson standouts, as well as a number of other talented acts.

“I am so inspired by Eva,” Cole said. “She’s so extraordinary talented with a voice so beautiful that it made me a fan of opera from the first day I heard her sing, and she’s only 14 years old.”  

As far as 2019 goes, Mayor currently has performances lined up in Utah, as well as dates as an opening act for Dyer’s Branson shows at the Americana Theatre. 

The album “Timeless” features opera, gospel, and hits from Broadway, and can be purchased at all major online music stores, including iTunes and Apple Music.

‘Unplanned’ at Branson Meadows  

The Branson Meadows Cinema 11, located in the Shoppes at Branson Meadows, is currently showing “Unplanned,” a film that has been the source of quite a bit of media coverage since its release last week.

“Unplanned,” produced by Pure Flix, is based on the 2009 memoir of the same name by Abby Johnson, a former Planned Parenthood employee who left to become a pro-life activist after witnessing an abortion at 13 weeks. 

The film faced several obstacles on its way to the big screen, including an R-rating for “some disturbing/bloody images,” a number of TV networks declining to run advertisements for the movie, as well as a brief suspension of the film’s official Twitter account the day after the film opened.

All that hoopla didn’t keep folks away, as “Unplanned” not only snagged an A-plus rating from Cinemascore, it grossed $6.3 million, good for fourth place at the box office, on just 1,059 screens. For comparison, the films that finished fifth and sixth at the box office last week, “Five Feet Apart” and “Wonder Park,” played in 2,845 and 3,304 theatres respectively, according to Boxofficemojo.com.

Due to the success of the film’s opening weekend, “Unplanned” is set to expand to a total of 1,700 theaters this weekend. In addition to a theatrical rollout, “Unplanned” was also made available to churches and other groups before it opened, and many local residents took advantage of the opportunity to see the film.

According to the folks at the branson Meadows Cinema 11, “Unplanned” should continue to be screened “for a few more weeks, at least.”

Showtimes for “Unplanned” are 12:15, 2:40, 5:10 and 7:30 p.m. nightly, with 9:55 p.m. showings Friday and Saturday. 

Visit bransonmeadowscinema11.com, as well as unplannedfilm.com for information.

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