Improv 1

Charlie Inahara, center, has a great time as members of the “Branson Improv” cast, Adler Davidson, far left, and Shelly Waggener, right.

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. 

Unexpected fun with the Branson Improv  

Earlier this week, myself and several of my fellow Branson Tri-Lakes News co-workers cruised to the Americana Theatre to catch the new “Branson Improv” show starring Shelly Waggener, Katy Meeks, Andy Barrett and Adler Davidson, and we had quite a bit of fun.

The art of improv is a tough thing to do, and even tougher to do well, but this cast, along with lots of help from the audience, make for a fast 90 minutes filled with lots of laughs.

The cast is anchored by Waggener, an award-winning actress who has starred in TV shows, as well as films including “The Last Movie Star” alongside the late, great Burt Reyonlds, and the Oscar-nominated “Winter’s Bone” with Jennifer Lawrence. Waggener took home a “Best Supporting Actress” award in Australia for her “Winter’s Bone” role. 

She also serves as a board member and national delegate for SAG-AFTRA, Screen Actors Guild/American Federation of Television and Radio Artists and is “currently in development for a TV sitcom.” 

She has also been working with elected government officials to implement a film incentives program to being more production to Missouri and Branson.

Joining Waggener is Meeks, an extremely funny lady who has been improvising and performing since 2014. Meeks has trained extensively with the Kansas City Improv Company, Chicago Improv Studio, and more, and she also teaches and directs improv. 

She also has a background in stand-up comedy, and you can totally tell. In fact, her character “Sue” is so good, it’s scary, and I’m talking about Wal-Mart in Harrison, Arkansas at 2 a.m. scary, y’all. A personal favorite part of the show.

Davidson is the “youngster” of the group, and at 22 years old, he’s already a successful YouTuber, stand-up comedian, and comedic singer/songwriter. 

He has been making comedy YouTube videos since he was 16, and has written/produced two comedy albums, both available on Spotify.

His debut short film, 5 Year Plan, won the “Best Comedy” and “People’s Choice” awards in the Faultline Film Festival. This short film was then incorporated into his debut stand-up special, 5 Year Plan, available on YouTube.

His “Love, Death and Robots” breakdown was pretty funny.

Barrett, who has been performing consistently since 2014, rounds out the cast. Throughout his career, Barrett has trained and performed in Branson, Springfield, Kansas City, and Chicago. His main passion is improv, which he has prolifically performed, taught, and directed both independently and for theatres.

In addition to having great timing, Barrett also serves as a “rutter” for the performers to make sure they don’t steer too far off course.

The “Branson Improv” show is different from anything else in town, and it was a whole lot of fun. Plus, it’s a different show every time they take the stage, so no matter when you go, you’re seeing something different and new.

In addition to performing regular shows at 9:30 p.m. Monday and Thursdays, the “Branson Improv” cast is also hosting a “special industry night this Thursday at 10:30 p.m. During this special night, locals, area business owners and area performers will get in for free and enjoy a special late night  show. Sounds like a pretty awesome time to me.

‘25th Annual Putnam County 

Spelling Bee’ at Owen Theatre

The Branson Regional Arts Council’s latest musical production, the “25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee,” will continue through Sunday at the Historic Owen Theatre in downtown Branson.

This version of the original Broadway musical introduces a diverse group of six awkward spelling champions who learn that winning, and in some cases losing, isn’t everything. 

A friendly reminder to my Loyal Reader(s), this production is rated PG-13, and shows are 2 and 7 p.m. matinee Saturday, as well as a 2:30 p.m. show Sunday.

Tickets are available online at BransonArts.org/tix, at the theater’s box office, or by calling the Historic Owen Theatre at 417-336-4255.

In addition to this week’s performance, the B.R.A.C. is again partnering with Forte Theatre Productions for another unique take on Shakespeare in the Park. This year, they’re featuring a “rock version” of “Hamlet,” featuring original music by local favorite Christopher Skillern.

The rock version of “Shakespeare in the Park Hamlet” is set for July 28, 29, and Aug. 4 and 5 at 8 p.m. at Chad Fuqua Memorial Park in Hollister.

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