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.
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Last chance to catch many shows
The 2019 season is almost in the books, and in Ozark Mountain Country, which means time is running out for folks to catch many local shows.
Here’s a list of some shows set to close over the next week.
At 10 a.m., Yakov Smirnoff, the Russian-born comedian who took the United States by storm in the 1980s and became one of the biggest stars in Ozark Mountain Country in the 1990s, will wrap his 2019 run at the Yakov Smirnoff Theatre. The comedian skyrocketed to fame in the 1980s in films like “Brewster’s Millions,” and “The Money Pit,” as well as on TV shows like “Night Court.”
He has also given command performances at the White House for several presidents and honored guests. President Ronald Reagan even called Smirnoff a “national treasure.”
Saturday afternoon sees the cast of “#1 Hits of the 60s” at the Clay Cooper Theatre. The husband and wife duo of Matt Muhoberac and Amber Campbell, who also serve as owners, producers and stars, join a cast featuring Jason Michael Frost, Jordan Dickison, Eric Dalton, Kaylee Riggins and Kelly Parrish, highlight more than a hundred songs, in rapid-fire fashion, from the 1950s, 60s and 70s, from “bubble gum” to Elvis Presley and the Beatles, and everything between.
Saturday night, the Andy Williams Performing Arts Center & Theatre will see Rick Thomas and his “Mansion of Dreams” wrap for the season. Thomas is one of the most popular illusionists in the business, and has performed on cruise ships, as well as in Europe before beginning an extended run of more than 500 shows a year for more than a decade in Las Vegas.
In addition to performing throughout the world, Thomas has also been featured on numerous national TV specials, including “The World’s Greatest Magic” specials on NBC as well as his own special for ABC that aired in Asia.
Also set for Saturday night is final “Raiding the Country Vault” show of the season at the Americana Theatre. This new cast features all the same tunes that made “Raiding the Country Vault” a hit when it debuted several years ago, with favorites from Conway Twitty, Patsy Cline, Johnny Cash, Buck Owens, Willie Nelson, Garth Brooks, Dolly Parton, George Strait and more.
At 2 p.m., Grand Country will host the final “Ozarks Gospel” show of the season. Starring Tammy and Tonya Bilyeu, who also headline “Ozarks Country,” this show features “all your toe-tapping gospel favorites,” from “I’ll Fly Away” to “Turn Your Radio On,” and everything between.
The Hamner Variety Theatre will host the final “Magnificent Seven Variety Show” of the year at 7 p.m. Starring Joe, Tamra and Talya Tinoco headline the “Magnificent Seven Variety Show,” which features seven decades of hits, more than 200 rapid-fire costume changes, singing, dancing, comedy, and drama. Rounding out the cast are Sharie Nievar, Dusty Wooldridge, Tami Griffith and Ryan Featherstone.
The “Magnificent Seven Variety Show” has been a mainstay in Branson for nearly 20 years.
The Dutton family will close “The Duttons Experience” at the Dutton Family Theatre with an 8 p.m. show Tuesday. Dean and Sheila Dutton, as well as many of the second and third generation family members ,have performed in all 50 of the United States, and most of the provinces of Canada, traveling millions of miles and giving thousands of concerts.
They were also standout performers on “America’s Got Talent” in season 2, making it into the Top 10. “The Dutton Experience” features music, dancing, instrumental hits, as well as a wide array of music.
The Americana Theatre will see one of Branson’s longest-tenured acts, the Sweethearts of Branson, Denny and Sheila Renee Yeary, and their daughter McKayla Ennis, headline the “Dolly and Friends A Tribute” for the final time this season at 5 p.m..
The show highlights the story of the life and times of Parton, one of the most iconic entertainers of the last 50 years, as well as a personal favorite of mine. Not only do they feature her beginnings with the legendary Porter Wagoner, the Sweethearts of Branson also perform many of Dolly’s biggest hits, including “I Will Always Love You,” “Islands in the Stream” and “Jolene.”
Wednesday night at 7:30 p.m. sees the final regular season edition of “CJ Newsom’s Classic Country and Comedy” at the Americana Theatre. Newsom, along with five-time comedian of the year Terry Wayne Sanders, featured singers and a full band, perform everything from Patsy Cline to Dolly Parton, and Johnny Cash to Chuck Berry.
In addition to musical fun, Sanders, who starred on TV’s “Hee Haw,” brings his family friendly, slap-stick comedy featuring characters Homer Lee, Joan Rivers, Grandma Beulah and more.
Newsom and the rest of the cast will be a part of an “all-star” New Year’s Eve show Dec. 31.
George Dyer’s “From Broadway to Buble” show will wrap at 10 a.m. Thursday at the Americana Theatre. Dyer, a professional opera singer who made his professional debut with the New York City Opera in New York City in 1996, along with his wife, Clarisse, and his children, feature a wide array of musical genres including power ballads, Broadway hits, love songs, classic standards, golden oldies, gospel, and more.
Thursday afternoon, the Grand Country Music Hall will see the “New South Gospel” show take the stage for their final afternoon show this year.
This two-hour Southern gospel extravaganza highlights the early roots of southern gospel to the hand-clapping gospel hits of today.
“New South Gospel” stars the quartet known as New South, Mark McCauley, David Ragan, Jon Drockelman and Luke Menard, as well as the Grand Band featuring “Mr. Piano” Tracy Heaston, female vocalist Jackie Brown and Branson’s Entertainer of the Year Jamie “Jim Dandy” Haage.
Thursday at 6 p.m. finds the cast of the “Absolutely Country, Definitely Gospel Dinner Show” wrapping for the season at Jackie B. Goode’s Uptown Cafe. The show features Faith’s Journey & Friends, Jonathan Edwards, his wife, Deana Edwards and Josh Adams, in an “uplifting concert” of gospel and country music.
Next year, “Absolutely Country, Definitely Gospel” will call the Majestic Theatre home.
Thursday night will see the Tribute Theatre’s “Southern Rock Tribute Show” wrap for the season. The Tribute Band performs hits from the Allman Brothers, ZZ Top, Marshall Tucker Band, the Doobie Brothers, and of course, Lynyrd Skynyrd.
Grand Country Music Hall will host “Down Home Country” Friday morning at 10 a.m. The “Down Home Country“ show pays tribute to the biggest names in country music history, as well as those names who helped shape Branson, and is fronted by Jamie Haage, Melody Hart, comedian Jarrett Dougherty and the “Rhinestone Mafia,” a.k.a. the Grand Band.
At 10 a.m. Friday, the Tribute Theatre finds vocalist Eddie Stovall and the cast of “Golden Sounds” wrapping their 2019 season. The show features songs from the group The Platters, including “Harbor Lights,” “Magic Touch,” “My Prayer,” “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes,” “The Great Pretender,” “Only You,” and more.
Also set for the afternoon of Friday the 13th, Mike Walker will perform his last “Conway Remembered” show of the year at the Hamner Variety Theatre. During this popular show, Walker highlight as many of Twitty’s more than 50 No. 1 hits, and tells stories and jokes along the way. Plus, Walker still has a full band, back up singers and a whole new slew of lighting equipment to play with at the theater.
Friday at 8 p.m., the Tribute Theatre will host the final “Bad Moon Risin’ Tribute to Creedence” show. During this show, a band of performers highlight the story and music of Creedence Clearwater Revival, with hits including “Born on the Bayou,” “Fortunate Son,” “Have You Ever Seen the Rain,” “Lookin’ Out My Back Door” and many more.
Also set for 8 p.m. Friday, the King’s Castle Theatre will host its final “Irish Tenors and Celtic Ladies” show of the year. The cast performs songs that have decidedly Irish ties, as well as popular English and American music. Tunes include “Danny Boy,” “When Irish Eyes are Smiling,” “You’ll Never Walk Alone,” Nessun Dorma,” and many more.
Saturday, Dec. 14:
“The Brett Family Christmas Show” will wrap at Dick Clark’s American Bandstand Theater at 10 a.m., Dec. 14.
Tom and Andrea Brett, their daughter Briahna and oldest son Brydon,have made it their mission to produce “the Show to See in Branson during Christmas.” This production is two hours of wall-to-wall classic, contemporary and original Christmas tunes, stories, and a whole lot more.
Also set for 10 a.m. is the final “A Janice Martin Cirque Show” of the year at the Americana Theatre.
Martin is a Juilliard Music School and Indiana University graduate, a U.S. Army veteran, and she’s also the World’s only aerial acrobatic violinist. She features country, rock, pop, opera, classical, comedy, magic, and even a floating, spinning piano.
Also the morning of Dec. 14, longtime Branson singer, musician and entertainer George Geisser will close his “George Jones and Friends Remembered” at Branson’s Imax Entertainment Complex. The show features “a trip down memory lane with the music of Jones, Tammy Wynette, Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson and more.
Geisser, also the show’s writer, producer, and emcee, weaves stories, jokes and bits about Jones into the show, while also drawing parallels to his own story, which is pretty interesting, too.
The afternoon of Dec. 14, Branson Imax Entertainment Complex’s Little Opry Theatre will see “The Sons of Britches” wrap their 2019 season. Featuring Louis Darby, Earl Vaughan and Randy Plummer, the “Sons of Britches” have been entertaining locals and tourists alike with their unique “all request” show format. The “Sons” perform everything from the Beatles to Johnny Cash and Charlie Daniels, to Jimmy Buffett and Glen Campbell, all depending on how rowdy the crowd wants to get.
Also taking a final bow Saturday afternoon is “New Jersey Nights” at the King’s Castle Theatre. “New Jersey Nights” is a “spectacular celebration” of the music of Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons, which takes the audience on a nostalgic musical journey through the career of one of the biggest selling groups of all times. The production features an award-winning cast of singers, dancers and unique stage sets, as well as Valli and the Four Seasons greatest hits, including “Sherry,” “Rag Dolls,” “Big Girls Don’t Cry,” “Walk Like A Man” and many more.
Next Saturday finds local favorite Nedgra Culp and her “Aretha - Queen of Soul Tribute” closing the season with a 3 p.m. show at the Tribute Theatre. During this show, Culp performs some of “The Queen of Soul’s” greatest hits, including “Think,” “Respect,” “Freeway of Love,” “A Natural Woman,” “Chain of Fools” and many more.
The evening of Dec. 14 sees the Tribute Theatre hosting the final “Take It To The Limit Eagles Tribute” show. The Tribute Theatre band highlights the life and times of one of the most popular bans of all time, featuring hits like “Hotel California,” “Take It To The Limit,” “Lyin’ Eyes,” “Take It Easy” and many more.
The Jim Stafford Theatre will also see the theater’s namesake wrap his 2019 season the evening of Dec. 14. Stafford has been a Branson mainstay for nearly 30 years, but saw much mainstream success before relocating to Ozark Mountain Country.
His first charted hit was “Swamp Witch,” but he followed it up with his popular “Spiders and Snakes,” which peaked at No. 3 that March.
With most of his tunes having a comedic flare, Stafford was given his own show by ABC in 1975, and he also appeared in music specials, variety shows and talk shows, including “The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson.” He also appeared in several major motion pictures, including the Clint Eastwood comedy “Any Which Way You Can” in 1980. One of his biggest career achievements also came from this era when he was asked to write music and lyrics for several songs in the 1981 Walt Disney animated classic, “The Fox and the Hound.
Finally, next Saturday night will also see the Presley family wrapping the “Presley’s Christmas Jubilee” show at the Presley’s Theatre.
“Branson’s First Show on the Strip” features classic country, comedy, gospel, and of course, some of the most timeless Christmas music of all time.
Keep reading the Branson Tri-Lakes News, visit bransontrilakesnews.com, or pick up a copy of Branson This Week to keep up with more “Last Chance” show opportunities.
Special events, limited engagement shows
There are several special shows set for the next few days that are perfect to celebrate this holiday season.
First Baptists Church of Branson is hosting the 10th Annual Christmas Bash Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the First Baptist Church Life Center.
The annual event is a way to help area families during the Christmas season while also providing some fun activities. The event will have groceries available for families to take home, as well as job training, and information about available jobs in the area.
There will also be free haircuts and eye exams, and fun activities include inflatables, games, candy, and photos with the Chick-fil-A Santa Cow.
The center is at 400 S. Sunshine St. in Branson.
For information, visit fbcbranson.com.
This weekend, the folks at the Branson regional Arts Council are performing it’s final production of the season, “A Christmas Carol The Musical,” at the Historic Owen Theatre in downtown.
This is the first time this particular version of the show is being presented in Branson, and shows are set for 7 p.m. Saturday, as well as Dec. 12 through 14. There will also be special 2 p.m. matinees Saturday, as well as next Sunday, Dec. 15.
In this classic tale, a prosperous curmudgeon, Ebenezer Scrooge, believes that personal wealth is far more valuable than the happiness and comfort of others. With an infuriated “Bah! Humbug!” Scrooge summates his feelings of Christmas tidings and charitable giving, but he’s forced to face his selfish ways when three ghosts on Christmas Eve lead him through his past, present and future. The timeless story comes to life in a “lavish and thrilling Broadway musical adaptation” of “A Christmas Carol, The Musical.”
Tickets are $16.96 for those 18 and older, and $11.45 for children 4-17, with proceeds benefiting the Branson Regional Arts Council.
Call 417-336-4255 or select seats online at BransonArts.org/tix.
Once the production of “A Christmas Carol The Musical” wraps, the Branson Regional Arts Council will present “a special, one-of-a-kind Holiday Showcase Christmas Concert featuring the young talented members of the Branson Regional Arts Council’s Staccato Show Choir” Dec. 17 at 7 p.m.
All seats are $10 and proceeds benefit the BRAC Youth Education Fund, which provides performing opportunities for area youth between the ages of 8 and 18.
This event is general seating, and tickets BransonArts.org/showcase, or at the door.
Monday night, the Branson Famous Theatre will host the 6th annual “Branson Christmas Show for Foster Families” at 6:30 p.m.
Since 2014, Melonie Brown, along with some talented family and friends, have presented this free Christmas show to foster and adoptive families of Stone and Taney counties as a way to thank them for all they do for children in need.
This year’s production features gospel singer Gloria Elliot, the Harmony Trio, Tessa Bratz from Sunshine Dance Studio, and special guest, comedian ventriloquist Jim Barber.
Brown said audience members may also expect some other surprise guests, including Santa Claus, who will be available for pictures.
The show is free to foster and adoptive families, and is also open to the general public for a $15 donation at the door. Kids 13 and younger are free.
Tuesday night, the Mansion Theatre will be home to the second annual “Ozark Community Christmas,” promoting hope and unity during this special season. Donations of both nonperishable items and money will be collected for Christian Action Ministries.
The event’s entertainment feature the choirs from Branson First Baptist Church and Faith and Wisdom Church combining for a “100 Voice Choirs,” along with special guest performances by the cast of “Six,” the Johnson Strings, the Blackwoods, Larry DeLawder as Barney Fife, and Pastor McSpadden.
Doors open at 6 p.m., and seating is first come first served. An offering will be taken during the evening.