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 firstname.lastname@example.org, or send me a message via our Branson Tri-Lakes News Facebook page.
Now, let’s get to it.
Branson-based episode of HBO show ‘We’re Here’ airs next week
Next week, locals will finally get their chance to catch an episode of the new HBO show “We’re Here,” which was filmed in Branson late last year.
This six-part, unscripted series follows three popular drag queens, Bob the Drag Queen (Caldwell Tidicue), Shangela Laquifa Wadley (DJ Pierce) and Eureka O’Hara (David Huggard), who were all a part of “RuPaul’s Drag Race” as they visit small towns across America, befriending and training certain locals to participate in a one-night only drag performance.
Executive Producers and creators Johnnie Ingram and Stephen Warren said they came up with the idea for the show while on vacation.
“It was raining and we were watching a lot more TV than we would normally watch,” Warren said. “We thought, ‘What should be on TV that isn’t on TV right now.’”
“How can we do something to make a difference in this world,” Ingram added.
“All of a sudden we thought, ‘Hum, drag in small towns,” Warren said. “What better way to do that than three of the greatest drag queens of all time going from small town to small town.”
“We’ve been to the Deep South, the Wild West, up, down, left and right,” Ingram said. “We took on some locals, and gave them the chance to tell their story through the art of drag.”
The debut episode, which aired April 23, saw the crew visit Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, followed by this week’s episode, set in Twin Falls, Idaho.
“Some of the stories we’re telling are very, very tough,” Warren said.
“People have sort of tucked away a lot of this pain, or misunderstanding, or a lack of communication with a loved one,” Ingram said. “And by tucking it away and not talking about it, it creates a lot of pain, and when you release that, it’s so powerful.”
“You never know what’s going to happen in these small towns,” Warren added. “It was our idea that something special could happen as a result of mixing people that we’d never otherwise think through art, through music, bringing them together for one night.
“It’s so nice to see the people look around and realize they aren’t alone, and they have support in their own community.”
“That is the goal of the show, to feel less alone,” Warren added. “That’s the thing that I think will push us forward to a little more love, a little more acceptance, and a lot more fun.”
In the upcoming episode, set to air at 8 p.m. Thursday, Bob, Eureka, and Shangela visit the “wholesome Las Vegas of the Midwest” known as Branson, where they meet three locals “struggling to be their true selves in a community that prides itself on its traditional, religious values,” according to a release.
The Branson storylines feature Tanner, a young actor questioning whether it’s possible for him to be both Christian and gay, as well as his relationship with his mother. Also featured is Charles, a classically trained dancer who wants to show that he’s not just out, but proud. Finally, production follows Chris, a father grappling with mental health issues who’s determined to embrace his emotions for the sake of his daughter.
Well Loyal Reader(s), I was able to catch the Branson episode earlier this week, and overall, I found it to be entertaining, educational, and quite uplifting. Not only are the stories and people producers chose to highlight compelling and emotional, but they’re so different from the tales that usually come from this area of the country.
Hopefully once the episode airs, I’ll be able to chat with some of the featured cast members for a follow-up story, which I am most assuredly looking forward to doing.
For more information, visit hbo.com/were-here. The episode will be available on demand from HBO once it airs.
Americana Theatre set to reopen in two weeks
According to owner and Producer Chris Newsom, the Americana Theatre will resume “most” of their shows beginning May 16. Newsom said “Raiding the Country Vault” will open first, followed by returning shows “The Blackwoods,” “Dolly & Friends A Tribute,” and the new show “Rock ‘N’ Roll Royalty.”
“We are following the CDC and Branson Guidelines for re-opening in a safe and secure way,” Newsom said. “We are implementing social distancing in our seating, masks, disinfecting the seats between each performance, as well as a host of other ways to keep everyone safe during this difficult time.
“We’re raring to go, and we’re excited about opening up with safety, wisdom and limitations.”
Newsom also added the cast members of the shows won’t be doing meet-and-greets after the shows.
“Branson is known for doing meet-and-greets, and we love doing meet-and-greets,” he said. “But we also love the people who come see us, as well as our employees and cast members too much to put them all at an even greater risk. I think we’ll all be doing away with meet-and-greets for a while.”
Visit americanatheatrebranson.com, or call 417-544-8700 for any questions or additional information.
Branson Regional Arts Council Announces new show dates
According to a release, the Branson Regional Arts Council Board of Directors decided to postpone “the majority” of their 2020 season of community theatre productions at the Historic Owen Theatre until next year with the opening of “The Sound of Music” in mid-February 2021.
“The health of our students, patrons, actors, technicians, volunteers and staff is our primary concern,” said BRAC Executive Director Jim Barber. “We carefully monitor the recommendations by the CDC, our governor, county and city of Branson and feel that we will not be at a point this summer where we can be assured it is safe for a large group of young students to gather inside an intimate performance facility such as ours.”
The exceptions to the announced schedule change includes “The Odd Couple by Neil Simon,” originally scheduled to open in March, is now slated to run Sept. 10-13. Some BRAC Education Department Classes, including the Staccato Show Choir and Arts Workshops are expected to resume at the Historic Owen Theatre, or virtually online, early this Summer. The Song Writing Workshop with Prince Ivan, set for Sept. 5, remains a go, as does the outdoor Shakespeare in the Park collaboration with Forte Theatrical Productions for late September and early October.
Additional theatrical programming may be announced this fall if conditions warrant.
According to the release, “anticipated theatre production date changes for the 2021 season include “The Sound of Music” Feb. 11-14, 18-21, 25-28, “The Glass Menagerie” Apr. 8, 11,12, “The Complete Works of William Shakespeare – Abridged” Apr. 30, May 2-3, Summer Youth Theatre Institute May 17-21, 24-28, 31 through June 2, “Peter Pan Jr.” June 3-6, “Mama Mia!” July 8-11, 15-18, “9 To 5 The Musical” Sept. 9-12, 16-19, “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” Nov 4-7, 11-14, and a yet-to-be announced “Family Show” Dec 3-4, 10-12.
The Arts Council asks loyal patrons to hold their current tickets for use on the new dates, transfer them to another show, or consider converting their ticket purchase into a fully deductible tax donation to the organization.