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. 

King’s Castle turns it up to 11 with ‘Anthems of Rock’ 

Last week I got the chance to visit Branson’s newest show, the hard-driving “Anthems of Rock” at the King’s Castle Theatre. 

This show is quite a departure from the usual slate of shows at the venue, which are usually referred to as “high production, Broadway-style, classic, old school, Hollywood-type of shows,” including “Broadway’s Greatest Hits” and “Dublin’s Irish Tenors and Celtic Ladies.” Not only does “Anthems of Rock” buck that style trend, but it also gives the cast, crew and management a chance to stretch their creative legs, so to speak.

The first thing I want to hit on is the musical selection, which is most assuredly not traditional Branson fare. I mean, had you told me two years ago I could go to the King’s Castle and hear Led Zeppelin, Heart, Bon Jovi, Queen and Meat Loaf in the same show, I’m not sure if I would have believed you, but that’s exactly what we got, and a whole lot more.

On a personal note, I feel the majority of the tunes featured in the show are indeed “no-brainer” choices for rock anthems, but there are a couple I could have done without (I’m looking at you, “Any Way You Want It” and “We Built This City on Rock and Roll”).

Having said that, the “COVID capacity crowd” seemed to dig the entire set list, and at the end of the day, that’s all that really matters. (Although I would argue no one ever made anything less cool by adding a Lynyrd Skynyrd song or three, just sayin.’)

Anyway, no matter how awesome your source material is, it’s all for naught if you don’t have the right talent in the right place. Luckily for us, King’s Castle owner and Producer David King and General Manager Jacqui Bell have loads of talent to build the show around.

The vocal talent is anchored by Sarah Marie Le Beau, who is also the vocal captain, Mesa Mitchell, Jay McManus, Brian Ashton Miller, and Cole Sherratt. Each of these immensely talented performers get their chance to shine, and when they do, this show soars. 

Not only do both Le Beau and Mitchell flat-out  “sing their faces off,” but the fact they cover several tunes traditionally sang by a male gives them an opportunity to make things their own, which they totally do.

Speaking of the guys, they still get to do lots of the heavy lifting, and you can see the pure joy and excitement while McManus is belting out Bon Jovi, or Miller is channeling his inner Meat Loaf. 

Sherratt, the final member of the vocal team, not only has the perfect voice for this type of music, but he also plays a mean electric guitar, which we don’t usually see at the venue.

Sherratt and Le Beau  both playing live is a first for a King’s Castle production, and it represents a huge leap forward for the venue, and it most assuredly adds a “rockin vibe” to the experience.

Just because “Anthems of Rock” is a new show for the venue, that doesn’t mean that signature “production style” isn’t there. It sure is, and that’s thanks to the dance team, consisting of Rowan Lewis Mitchell, Amy Morlang, Kelvin Joseph Wright, Kristen Dasto and Courtnay Mullen, who is also the choreographer. They are ridiculously talented, and add a dimension all their own to the production while blending seamlessly into the flow of the show.

Plus, they never stop going full-throttle, and Loyal Reader(s), I was tired just watching them.

Overall, we had a fantastic time at the show, and like Mrs. Bell told me a few weeks back, the show will be ever changing and growing, and I can’t wait to go back and spend a few hours with them again in the very near future and see what’s new.

Showtimes are 2 p.m. Thursday and 8 p.m. Wednesday and Saturday.

Visit kingscastletheatre.com.

Nearly a dozen shows set to open/return   

This week’s slate of returning shows got underway earlier this week with “Todd Oliver and Friends” at the Shepherd of the Hills’ Playhouse Theatre and “#1 Hits of the 60s,” which returned to the Clay Cooper Theatre Tuesday afternoon.

Friday will see the Branson Famous Theatre return with its three headlining shows, “Branson’s Famous Baldknobbers,” “Reza Edge of Illusion,” and the “Doug Gabriel Show,” back in action.

Gabriel, who has been named “Male Vocalist of the Year” and “Show of the Year” numerous times, and his full band return for a fantastic variety show at 10 a.m. At 2 p.m., the flat-out awesome Reza and his “Edge of Illusion” show is back in action, followed at 8 p.m. by “Branson’s Famous Baldknobbers.”

Visit baldknobbers.com, douggabriel.com and rezalive.com for more.

Saturday was originally set to see the annual Rock house Music Festival in Reeds Spring, but due to the pandemic, it was canceled, and another event was planned in its place.

The folks at the Rock House in Reeds Spring are sponsoring an event called “Jammin’ at the Canyon” at Old Wilderness Canyon near Reeds Spring. 

This event will see entertainers including the Creek Rocks, Sad Daddy, Jeff and the Rainmakers and the Nace Brothers.

Tickets are available at rockhousecenterforthearts.org/calendar-tickets, or by calling 417-272-8386.

Saturday at 7:30 p.m., “The Haygoods” return to the Clay Cooper Theatre to continue celebrating their 28th season in Ozark Mountain Country.

Michael, Matthew, Dominic, Tim, Patrick and Catherine Haygood, along with drummer Dino Phillips, take the Branson show experience to the next level each and every season, and I can’t wait to see what they do in 2020.

Visit thehaygoods.com or claycoopertheatre.com.

Also set for Saturday night is the post-COVID return of Jerry Presley and the “Aloha From Hawaii” edition of his “Elvis Live” show at the God & Country Theatres. 

Presley features a live band and back up singers as he continues on his personal mission to recreate the feeling of seeing Elvis Presley, his cousin, live in concert. Visit godandcountrytheaters.com for more.

Sunday night will see first of the new slate of shows at the newly remodeled and renovated Branson Star Theatre, home to a 200 seat auditorium, as well as a “big room” which can seat more than 1,300, debut with “Thunderstruck,” an AC/DC tribute show at 8 p.m. 

Monday, June 8, will see “The Kenny Rogers Experience featuring Rick McEwen” open at 10 a.m., followed by “Women of Country Music” at 2 p.m., “Music of the 80s (With Love)” at 5 p.m., and “Fusion: Where Metal meets Classical” at 8 p.m.

“HardRock Nite,” featuring Chip Znuff from Enuff Znuff opens Tuesday, June 9 at 8 p.m. 

The venue’s “biggest show,” Woods’ “Nashville Roadhouse,” is set to open Thursday, June 11 in the “big room.” That show stars Stevie Lee Woods, Kathie Baillie & The Boys headlining every Thursday and Friday nights. 

“Nashville Roadhouse” will also feature national touring acts, starting with the Swon Brothers, who appeared on “The Voice.”

The Swon Brothers, Zach and Colton,  gained national attention as finalists on NBC’s “The Voice” in 2013, and released their self-titled major-label debut the following year. The album’s first single, “Later On,” was the duo’s first Top 15 hit.

The brothers have also received CMA and ACM Award nominations for “Vocal Duo of the Year,” as well as a CMT Music Award nomination for “Duo Video of the Year.” 

Their loyal followers, called “The Swontourage,” are sure to be out in great numbers, and I’m awful curious to check these cats out, as well as the new Branson Star Theatre.

The venue is also set to feature a full bar with live entertainment.

Visit bransonstartheater.com for more.

As June rolls on, so too will more shows. The folks at “Clay Cooper’s Country Express” will take the stage for the first time since March on June 10 at the Clay Cooper Theatre. Also set for June 10 is the return of “Grand Jubilee” at the Grand Country Music Hall, followed by “New South Gospel” June 11, and “Branson Country USA” June 12.

June 13 will see Silver Dollar City open to season pass holders, June 15 for everyone else (see page 1A).

The Americana Theatre’s “CJ Newsom’s Classic Country and Comedy” returns June 14, while June 15 sees the debut of the Ruby Room Theatre & Lounge at the Majestic, which will house “Dancing in the Streets – a Motown Revue” and “Doo Wop & the Drifters.”

June 15 also sees White Water open for season pass holders, followed on June 17 for everyone else. The Showboat Branson Belle will reopen June 20.

Grand Country will see “Ozarks Gospel” return June 21, then “Ozarks Country” back June 28. “Down Home Country” is slated to return Sept. 9.

“Buckets N Boards will open June 24, then “Legends in Concert” will open June 25 at Dick Clark’s American Bandstand Theater. July 1 will see “Parrotville” return to the Jim Stafford Theatre, as well as “The Sons of Britches” at the Little Opry Theatre. Speaking of the Little Opry Theatre, Branson’s Imax Entertainment Complex is also set to reopen July 1.

“Six” is set to return to Dick Clark’s American Bandstand Theater July 13.

Other shows and events that have already been rescheduled include the 2020 Branson Music & Arts Festival June 20 and 21 at the Big Cedar Lodge amphitheater on Table Rock Lake, as well as the Branson Elvis Festival, set for July 10-12 at Dick Clark’s American Bandstand Theater.

WonderWorks opens Friday   

I’m getting awful excited about visiting the new WonderWorks attraction, an “upside-down,  science-focused, indoor amusement adventure for the mind that holds something unique and interesting for visitors of all ages.“

Be sure and grab a copy of Branson This Week, free on newsstands Thursday morning, or grab a copy of Saturday’s Branson Tri-Lakes News for more.

Rest in Peace, Rattlesnake    

Saturday morning was one of mourning for many folks in Branson when an announcement was made local favorite “Rattlesnake” Eddie Wood died following a short, but valiant battle against lung cancer.

“Rattlesnake,” as he is known by most, began his background of leather work in the 1970s, during his days of both riding, as well as fighting, bulls professionally at rodeos all over the country. He was also a member of the “Shepherd of the Hills Outdoor Drama” cast for several years.

He and his wife Debbie owned and operate the Crooked Sky Trading Post, which called the Branson Mill home for many years. Crooked Sky is currently located at the Vista Plaza on “The Strip.”

While I didn’t know “Rattlesnake” as well as so many in this community, I spent enough time around him to know he was an “American Original,” and just like Merle Haggard said, he always wore his “own kind of hat.”

The world may be a little worse off with the loss of such a good ol cowboy, but make no mistake, it was made a whole lot brighter because he was here.

According to his wife Debbie, funeral services are set for Wednesday at the Atkinson Funeral Home in Harrisonville. Visitation is at 1 p.m., followed by a service at 2 p.m. A “Celebration Of Life” will be held in Branson sometime this month. For a full obituary, see page 8A.

As far as I know, the benefit show set for June 14 at the God & Country Theatres is still a go. The lineup of guests is set to see Mike McAdoo, Barry Williams and the Traveliers, Darrell Croy, Sting Ray Anthony, LaVeeta Faye, Radney “Little E” Pennington, Kari Garrison, Jay McManus and many more, as well as special guests from the Shepherd of the Hills. 

Auction items will be available, and donations are also being accepted in the form of cash, check, money order, and PayPal. Organizers are still accepting items for the auction, and anyone wanting to donate should reach out to McAdoo via social media.

Tickets are $10 each.

Call 417-334-6806 for tickets and additional information.

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