For the first time in 13 years, Pierce Arrow Theater is offering up a completely new production for locals and tourists alike.
Dan Britton, owner and general manager of the theater and producer of the “Pierce Arrow” show, said the new show brings with it two new vocalists, new lights, new songs, new costumes, new comedy and an entirely new experience.
“Over the 13 years, our show has changed occasionally, but those changes haven’t always been recognizable,” Britton said. “This year, we wanted to do something different so the community would definitely recognize it.”
Changing up the show means everyone had to learn new songs, cues, jokes and routines, but musical director Bobby Blackburn said the talented group of musicians, plus comedian Jarrett Dougherty, had no problem.
“It’s been no challenge at all,” Blackburn said. “We’ve got the greatest band in the world. I don’t think I’ve ever had so much fun at rehearsals.”
Michelle Wait, the production’s new female vocalist, said she’s excited about being part of the production.
“This is one of the best shows in town,” Wait said. “This is a great opportunity and I’m looking forward to all of it — the music, the performing and the amazing wardrobe.”
Wait recently had been performing at King’s Castle Theatre.
To keep ideas fresh, Britton said, he traveled to Las Vegas and other areas.
“We want to keep it fresh,” he said. “This is a younger group of people, but we’re doing songs and material we all enjoy.”
That isn’t to say everything has changed. Audience members will still get to see Dougherty’s Brother Cecil Watkins and other characters.
Scott Fraker, who joined Pierce Arrow in 2010, said every member of the production brings something special to the table.
“We’re not all 50-plus, and we’re not all 20,” Fraker said. “Musically, there’s various likes and interests. That translates to the audience.
“If there is something that doesn’t translate, we’ve got the talent level here that we can put something else in the next night and move right along.”
Luke Menard, Pierce Arrow tenor, said the variety and talent gives the show a unique blend.
“This year all of the vocalists on stage, they’re all really good soloists, but we can really blend well, too,” Menard said. “That comes from having quality musicians.”
The songs this year vary widely, from country classics like Dolly Parton’s “Jolene,” modern country like Gretchen Wilson’s “Here for the Party,” both sang by Wait; Creedence Clearwater Revival’s hit “Proud Mary;” The Mills Brothers classic “Cab Driver;” and plenty more.
“The songs this year are a blast to sing,” said Tim Storms, who is currently the longest tenured member of the quartet group, having joined in 2006.
“That’s going to come through this year,” he said. “The audience is going to feel like they had fun because we had fun on stage.”
Jimmy Fulbright, the newest addition to the Pierce Arrow quartet, agreed.
“It’s the different influences that really makes the motor turn,” Fulbright said.
He spent the past dozen years touring as part of the Oak Ridge Boys.
“What drew me here is my friendships,” Fulbright said.
Britton and Fulbright performed together years ago in the Branson Brothers, Fullbright said.
“We even recorded an album,” Fulbright said. “We must have sold, what, 12 or 14 copies?
Rounding out the vocalists are Menard, an “American Idol” finalist who joined Pierce Arrow in 2011; Storms, the bass who holds the Guinness World Record for singing the lowest note; and Fraker, a Springfield Baptist minister who performed previously with the gospel group Chosen Few.
This year Britton, a member of the original Pierce Arrow band who held the Guinness record for lowest note sung prior to Storm, also hits the stage for a few musical numbers.
“Always, I want people to know we’re a Christian- and family-friendly show,” Britton said. “We want people to take that feeling away. We want them to leave feeling like they’ve just been to a party, because that’s what it is to us.”