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. 

Slapped in the face by crepes  

For the last few months I’ve been hearing about this new food truck destination called Crave Coffee & Crepes, located between Branson Helicopter Tours and the Branson Ferris Wheel.

I must admit, outside of tasting Paul and Flavie Lear’s crepes at Cajun Days, my knowledge of the “small, very thin pancakes,” was limited. 

As one might imagine, I was quite surprised to find crepes weren’t just for dessert.

Local entertainers Dominic Haygood and Reggie Regnell, who is also a chef, opened their new creation last month after about six months of hard work.

“We got this idea back in January,” Haygood began. “We wanted to bring something different, something fresh, some lighter fare that was filling and made with fresh ingredients, and that’s the beauty of having a food truck.”

“Dominic and his wife went to Boulder, Colorado, and had this out-of-this-world experience with crepes,” Regnell added. “We’ve been wanting to work together for a long time, but we thought it was going to be in shows because we both do shows. But he calls and asked if crepes were anything I’ve gotten into at all. I laughed and said ‘It’s funny you say that, because I grew up on crepes.’”

According to Regnell, his grandmother made an “amazing” crepe batter when he was a child.

“All my friends used to line up on Sundays and we’d have a big crepe-fest,” he said with a laugh. “That’s really how it got started.”

“So we got the idea and I found this trailer in Branson, sitting in some guy’s yard, and it had been there for like, two years,” Haygood said.

“So we started working on it, building the kitchen ... and it took way longer, was much more effort and was much more intensive than we thought it was going to be. But as soon as we opened and people responded the way they did, it made it all worth while, which is great. When you’re an entrepreneur, there’s a serious level of  fear you have to overcome,” Haygood said. “All this money is going out, no one is eating anything yet, and there’s no data or Intel to justify the time and money you’re spending. You just have to believe in what you’re doing.”

“When we saw people eating this for the first time, their jaws were just dropping,” Regnell said. “It’s really cool to see that.”

In addition to the crepes, they also serve gourmet coffee.

“Another big thing we do is $2 cappuccino and Americano coffee all day, every day,” Regnell added. 

“The coffee comes from Switzerland, and we have a machine we ordered from Europe that makes a rich, creamy coffee,” Haygood said. “It’s outrageously tasty.”

So after hearing about how awesome everything was, my curiosity became peaked, and I dug in. Since I was there during lunch, the guys suggested I try the ham and cheese.

I know my Loyal Reader(s) are thinking the same thing I was, “ham and cheese rolled in a thin little pancake just sounds off to me.”

I was incorrect in my original thought, and the first bite awakened taste buds I haven’t used in tandem in years. The crepe is cooked, then flipped, then loaded with black forest ham, sharp cheddar cheese, onions, tomatoes and spicy mayo, and believe me when I tell y’all, it was awesome.

In fact, I didn’t think it could get any more awesome until I actually tried a dessert crepe, “The Swede.” This crepe was loaded with seasonal berries, blueberries and strawberries in this case, homemade whipped cream and chocolate syrp, dusted with powered sugar.

The freshness of the fruit was noticeable, and those highly touted fresh, made from scratch ingredients made this one of the best dining experiences I’ve had in the 417.

Haygood said they “specialize in super high quality food, made-from-scratch, that is outrageously tasty at a price everyone can afford.” He’s as right as can be.

It’s different, it’s good, and it’s local. A perfect combination.

Crave Coffee & Crepes is open for breakfast from 8-11 a.m., then for lunch from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m., They reopen at 7 p.m. until “whenever, usually around midnight,” for dessert and more.

“We have a full dessert menu, and some savories for the late-night munchers,” Haygood added.

Visit facebook.com/CraveBranson, or call 417-598-0384

Last chance to go ‘Gaga’ at ‘Legends’

Tuesday is the last chance my Loyal Reader(s) have to catch Kate Steel’s tribute to Lady Gaga in the “Legends in Concert” show at Dick Clark’s American Bandstand Theater.

“Legends in Concert,” which features look- and sound-alike artists paying tribute to the most iconic artists in music history, changes acts four time a year to help producers tailor-make each lineup especially for the demographic of folks visiting for each season. In addition to Steel’s “Gaga,” the summer “Legends in Concert” lineup features Ryan “Big Business” Pelton as Elvis Presley, Clint Nievar and Danny Z as “Joliet” Jake and Elwood Blues, the Blues Brothers, Doug Brewin as Alan Jackson, and Paul Eve as Johnny Cash. 

While Pelton, Brewin, Eve, Nievar and Z have all performed on the “Legends” stage in Branson many times over the past few years, this is Steel’s first foray into the Branson entertainment scene. 

Steel began training in both voice and dance when she was 4, and by the time she was 8, she began performing in musical theater productions and realized the stage was where she always wanted to be.

She eventually made her way to “Legends in Concert,” where she spent nine years as a singer/dancer at many venues across the country, including Las Vegas. 

Like I said earlier this year, Steel has a great look, fantastic costumes, loads of choreography and she can flat-out wail. Her duet with Brewin on the song “Shallow” from “A Star is Born,” which won the Academy Award for Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures (Original Song) earlier this year, is one of the coolest things you’ll see on a stage all year long.

Once Steel finishes up, the fantastic Stacey Whitton Summers, one of my favorite tribute artists of all time ever, will perform her tribute to Pat Benatar in the “Legends” lineup from Aug. 1 through the end of the summer run, Sept. 3.

Speaking of the fall run, Summers will remain in the show, trading Benatar black for platinum blonde as her fantastic and timeless tribute to Marilyn Monroe will again be featured. She’ll be joined by Nievar and Z’s Blues Brothers, as well as the returning tribute to the Temptations. Also, Pelton is set to perform two different tributes to Presley, one paying homage to the 60s, the other to the 70s. 

I don’t know about y’all, but that sounds like a pretty flat-out awesome fall to me. The fall lineup runs from Sept. 5-Oct. 31.

Showtimes for “Legends in Concert” is  3 and 8 p.m. Saturday through Tuesday, 8 p.m. Thursday and 3 p.m. Friday.

Shakespeare in the Park ‘Hamlet’ in Hollister

The folks at Forte Theatre Productions LLC, the Branson Regional Arts Council and the City of Hollister are again partnering to present this year’s Shakespeare in the Park production of “Hamlet,” which will be a “rock version.”

This is the 3rd annual Shakespeare in the Park at Chad A. Fuqua Memorial Park,  following a steampunk version of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” in 2017, and a Civil War setting for “Romeo and Juliet” last year. As a city park improvement, Hollister has newly installed lighting and audio system in the park’s performance pavilion. 

“Hamlet” will be the first to fully utilize the new equipment. 

One of “The Bard’s” most quoted and oft-borrowed from works, “Hamlet” tells the tale of the Prince of Denmark, who finds out that his father was secretly murdered and plots to avenge his father’s death. In addition to being infinitely quotable (“To be, or nor to be,” “This above all: to thine own self be true,” and my personal favorite, “Get thee to a nunnery, go.”), it has also been the basis for many popular films of all time, such as “The Lion King.”

For this version of “Hamlet,” the action is set in the 1990s and uses an original rock underscore written by longtime local musician Chris Skillern, who also portrays King Claudius. The talented Skillern will also play guitar as a part of his performance.  

He’ll be joined by Josh Boulden, who plays Hamlet. According to a release, Boulden will paint temporary murals in selected scenes to help progress the story line.

The rest of the cast includes Charis Boulden as Ophelia, Jonna Volz as Gertrude,  John Paul-Fox as Horatio, Ian Lahlum as  Polonius, Conor Finnerty as Laertes, and Alex Shriver, Ashley Litke, Austin Delp, Brandon Farrar, Lindsey Lee, Lizzy Hinton, Michael Sager, and Bucky Buckner

Also, this is a “bring your own chair or blanket” event. Seating is not provided and refreshments will be available.

Show times are 8 p.m. Sunday and Monday, as well as August 4 and 5. 

Visit BransonArts.org/tix or call the Branson Regional Arts Council at 417-336-4255.

In case of a rain out, the show will move to the Historic Owen Theatre in downtown Branson.

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