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. 

‘Sinatra and Friends’ at King’s Castle

A few weeks back I was flipping through the radio dial and heard “Luck Be a Lady” by Ol’ Blue Eyes, the Chairman of the Board, Francis Albert Sinatra. At that point I knew I needed some Sinatra music in my life so I made plans to catch “Sinatra & Friends” at the King’s Castle Theatre. 

For some reason, I sort of expected this to be a “tribute” show starring an impersonator, or “tribute artist,” but I was pleasantly surprised to discover that was not the case. “Sinatra & Friends” is a full-on production show, featuring Broadway-style dancing, singing and sets, as well as plenty of vintage footage of Sinatra throughout the years, which was pretty awesome.

The set list is filled with all the awesome Sinatra tunes one would expect to hear, from “Come Fly With Me” to “New York, New York,” and everything between. Being the show is called “Sinatra & Friends,” several other artists are highlighted, including Dean Martin, Judy Garland and Barbara Streisand.

One of my favorite aspects of the show is how producers incorporated the “& Friends” aspect of the show. I’ve been to more than my share of shows claiming to highlight the particular music of one artist, only for them to say, “Here’s a tune from so-and-so,” and give no context as to how it relates to the theme, or the artist spotlighted in the show.

I like it when things make sense on stage, and I doubly like when I can be entertained, as well as educated.

Speaking of being entertained, since there are four different shows currently calling the King’s Castle Theatre home, the cast may be different on any given day for any given show. The cast I was fortunate enough to see featured Jay McManus, Brian Caraker, Sarah Marie Le Beau, Maggie Moore, Kelvin Wright, Rowan Lewis Mitchell, Courtnay Mullen, Ruth Robertson. 

This group of entertainers not only sing, dance and act all over the stage, but it’s pretty obvious they all have a love for performing, as well as great chemistry on stage. 

In addition to the production numbers and my favorite Sinatra classics, my favorite part of the show was Le Beau and Moore performing the aforementioned Garland Streisand duet. In the effort of being as spoiler free as possible, the “mash up” was excellent, it fit in the narrative of the show, and the ladies flat-out nailed it.

I ended up being surprised on several different levels at “Sinatra & Friends,” and if you’re a fan of Ol’ Blue Eyes and his friends, Broadway-style singing and dancing, then this show is perfect for you.

Showtimes are Sundays at 2 p.m., 8 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays, and 10 a.m. Fridays.

King’s Castle Theatre is also home to “Broadway: The Greatest Hits,” “New Jersey Nights,” “Dublin’s Irish Tenors & The Celtic Ladies,” and the “Christmas Wonderland Holiday Spectacular,” which opens in the fall.

Branson Landing Concert 

Series kicks off Saturday  

The folks at Branson Landing are again hosting the Summer Concert Series, which features a handful of free concerts in front of the fountains throughout the year. 

The series kicks off Saturday night with a special Memorial Day weekend show featuring the Rosy Hips, Members Only and a pre-concert Glitz & Glam Fashion Show, which runs from 6:15-6:30 p.m. 

The concert kicks off at 6:30 p.m.

The Rosy Hips are one of my favorite local bands, and “dish out soul-tronic, electro-pop originals,” featuring medleys of chart-topping hits from just about every genre. Featuring Taylor Newsom, Jeremiah Sharp, Willard Franklin Clark III, the incomparable Seth Darby, and Jake, Ashley and Jenna English, their harmonies, energy and musicianship are stellar, and I promise you’ll have a great time.

Joining the Rosy Hips is the 80s cover band Members Only, one of the most popular cover bands in the region. Made up of Justin Gabossi, Zach McClease, Jake Simpson, Jeremiah Sharp and Brent Thornton, who cover everything from Journey, Bon Jovi, Michael Jackson and Prince, to Def Leppard, Guns & Roses and more.

The concert series continues June 7 and will see the duo of Makenna and Brock, followed by The Dirty Saints June 22, and Aftershock, the 135th Army Band, will perform a concert June 29 from 7-9 p.m. 

Branson Landing will celebrate Independence Day on July 3 with the 12th Annual Liberty Light Up Concert & Fireworks featuring Jason Pritchett & The Steel Horses.

For more information, visit bransonlanding.com.

New ‘Legends’ lineup  

The folks at “Legends in Concert” at Dick Clark’s American Bandstand Theater, a tribute show which features incredible look- and sound-alike artists performing the biggest hits of yesterday and today, debuted the summer lineup earlier this week, and it’s fantastic.

The summer lineup sees Doug Brewin as Alan Jackson, Paul Eve as “The Man in Black” Johnny Cash, Clint Nievar and Danny Z returning as “Joliet” Jake and Elwood Blues, the Blues Brothers, Ryan “Big Business” Pelton as Elvis Presley, and Rainere Martin, who will perform a tribute to Donna Summer through May 31. Beginning June 1, Kate Steele  makes her Branson debut as Lady Gaga. She’ll be featured in the cast through the end of July. 

From Aug. 1 through the end of the summer run, Sept. 3, one of the most talented tribute artists in the business, Stacey Whitton Summers, will perform a tribute to Pat Benatar in the “Legends” lineup.

As my Loyal Reader(s) no doubt know, between the variety of musical genres, excellent musicians and the best tribute artists in the business, “Legends” is one of my favorites.

Labor Day with Janice Martin  

One of Branson’s most entertaining, and unique performers, Janice Martin, will be flying high above the Branson “Strip” as she dangles from a crane on Memorial Day.

Martin will host a special event outside the Americana Theatre Monday afternoon at 6:45 p.m., before she heads in for her special 7:30 p.m. show that evening. The festivities begin with free hot dogs in the parking lot, weather permitting, starting at 6:45 p.m. At 7 p.m., Martin will hang from a crane and play the “Star Spangled Banner” above the Americana Theatre sign at 7 p.m. sharp, followed by “a little singing and dancing up there.” Once she wraps up, folks will have plenty of time to head inside and catch the 7:30 p.m. show.

Tickets are available at the Americana Theatre box office. 

“I’m very excited about the changes we have made with a totally new cast with pretty amazing dancing and singing, juggling, comedian and MC,” Martin said.

This show continues to be a breath of fresh air in the live show scene, and I can’t wait to see what she’s got cooked up now.

Bluegrass & BBQ wraps Monday

Silver Dollar City is saving one of the most exciting, and well-attended event, the annual KSMU Youth in Bluegrass Band Contest, set for Saturday at the Red Gold Heritage Hall.

This contest features up-and-coming bluegrass bands from 14 different states, the most ever featured in the event, who will compete to win the top prize of $1,500.

Saturday will see the Lindsey Family, The Russell Clan, and ShadowGrass, with Russell Moore & IIIrd Tyme Out at Echo Hollow for Bluegrass Nights.

Sunday will see ShadowGrass, Casey & The Atta Boys, Paul Family, Dixie Jubilee, Po’ Anna and The Trailblazers. Diamond Rio headlines Echo Hollow Sunday for Bluegrass Nights.Monday wraps with ShadowGrass, Casey & The Atta Boys, Dixie Jubilee, Po’ Anna and The Trailblazers, as well as the Malpass Brothers at Echo Hollow that evening.

Next weekend, Silver Dollar City is kicking off its Summer Concert Series at Echo Hollow with Members Only next Friday, followed June 1 by Christopher Cross, then “Dancing Dream: The Tribute to Abba,” a New York City-based touring tribute act Sunday, June 2.

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