Dick Clark’s American Bandstand Theater in Branson, Missouri hails rock’s country roots with the addition of Larry Gatlin & The Gatlin Brothers in 2008. Larry, Steve, and Rudy join the revolving line up of internationally acclaimed stars performing at Dick Clark’s American Bandstand Theater. In 2008 Larry Gatlin & The Gatlin Brothers’ shows are at 10:00AM Tuesday through Friday with an 8:00 PM show on Mondays. The limited performance dates run April 14 through May 29 and again September 8 through Dec. 13, 2008.

Larry Gatlin comments, “We’re looking forward to bringing our show to Dick Clark’s American Bandstand Theater in Branson. It’s one of the most happening places in the country for fans to see the original stars and performers of great American music.” With the addition of Larry Gatlin & The Gatlin Brothers, the combined star power at Dick Clark’s American Bandstand Theater in Branson has produced over 145 Top 40 Hits, and over 60 Solid Gold Records.
With their rich blend of family harmonies featuring Larry’s brilliant tenor voice and songwriting skills, the brothers exploded on the national charts, making the Gatlins a household name and landing Larry the prestigious Top Male Vocalist of the Year Award from the Academy of Country Music in 1979. That same year Straight Ahead won Album of the Year and All The Gold In California won Single of the Year. Other hits include the Grammy Award-Winning Single Broken Lady as well as I Just Wish You Were Someone I Loved, Denver, Houston (Means I’m One Day Closer to You), Take Me To Your Lovin’ Place, Midnight Choir (Mogen David), The Lady Takes The Cowboy Every Time, What Are We Doing Lonesome, I Don’t Want To Cry, She Used to Be Somebody’s Baby, Talkin’ To The Moon, I’ve Done Enough Dyin’ Today, Statues Without Hearts, Delta Dirt, Night Time Magic and many more.

Larry Gatlin & The Gatlin Brothers have been a successful concert attraction for over three decades. In the nineties the brothers had made the decision to stop touring; however after a short hiatus and some interesting persuasion from a promoter, the brothers’ decided to go on “The Gatlin Brothers Never Ending Reunion Tour” and brought their tour to Branson, Missouri. Larry says, “Every year we’ve enjoyed performing in Branson for our fans who travel here from across America. Being in Branson is a natural for us because our fans love visiting here and we love performing for them. Besides this a great place to get in some quality golf time.” For tickets, reservations, and Branson show schedules visit ReserveBranson.com.

Information courtesy of American Bandstand Theater

Through January 15, 2008
Location: The Butterfly Palace & Rainforest Adventure
Available exclusively during the holidays, White Flight will feature thousands of white butterflies fluttering like living snowflakes amid a rainforest sparking with thousands of twinkling lights. All of this while holiday music fills the soul. Simply unforgettable!This holiday journey also includes a stop in our 3-D theatre, rainforest critter center, and Emerald Forest Mirror Maze.
January 19, 2008
Location: The Titanic Museum
The nation’s most prestigious ice sculptors will compete on-site at the Titanic Museum Attraction’s outdoor entertainment center by the ship’s bow on Saturday, January 19, 2008. The event is free and open to the public.

Visitors will be invited to watch as each sculptor shapes 250 pounds of ice into cool visions of Titanic while putting the heat on competitors for more than $7,500 in prize money and world recognition.

Children and families interested in exploring the world of ice carving can learn the latest techniques, get handy hints and see the unique tools that our Titanic sculptures are using.
February 1, 2008 – February 29, 2008
Location: The Titanic Museum
It’s Valentine’s Day every day during February on Titanic. Guests will be invited to celebrate their own personal love stories as they relive the on-screen romance between “Rose” and “Jack”, the star-crossed lovers in James Cameron’s Academy Award-winning movie, Titanic.
In the spirit of the occasion, Titanic will be awash in hearts and flowers, from the enchanted Grand Staircase to the magical gift shop where romantic, keepsake offerings can be found for sweethearts of all ages.
February 11, 2008
Times: 7pm
14th Annual Hot Winter Fun Big Show. Hot Winter Fun is heating up in Branson. This show features a wide variety of shows that are open throughout the year in Branson in one exciting night. Shows represented include Jim Stafford, Grand Jubilee, Doug Gabriel, Baldknobbers, Legends in Concert, Comedy Jamboree, Celebrate America, The White House Theatre, and others.
Information courtesy of Branson Chamber of Commerce
Image courtesy of Titanic Museum

Welk-Sullivan Productions is making some changes in 2008 at the Welk Resort Theatre with new pairings of beloved entertainers, some brand new talent and the return of two popular reunions.

Tony Orlando will join The Lennon Sisters in 2008 for an all new Christmas Celebration production at the Welk Resort. This new pairing of beloved headliners in an all-new show will run from November 1 through December 6, 2008.

The new production will showcase America’s Sweethearts of Song — Kathy, Janet and Mimi Lennon — with an entertainer admired and known for his string of chart-topping hits and the song that became an American anthem of hope and homecoming, reunion and renewal.
Orlando, a consummate entertainer, sings his hit songs including “Tie A Yellow Ribbon Around The Old Oak Tree,” “Candida,” “Knock Three Times” and many more. Then he delights audiences with music from different genres, adds variety as he showcases his very talented band and then pulls even more surprises out of his vast repertoire. The Lennon Sisters dazzle audiences with their sweet harmonies, signature songs and “More than 50 Years in 5 Minutes” video remembrance of their amazing entertainment career.

“We’re thrilled to bring these beloved entertainers together and bring a new Christmas production to Branson in 2008, said Joe Sullivan, general manager of the Welk Resort Theatre and executive producer of Welk-Sullivan Productions.

“I’ve enjoyed working with Larry, Steve and Rudy Gatlin since 2001 when we brought the Gatlin Brothers Christmas Reunion Show to Branson. Although I will miss working with them next year, I fully support their decision to perform in a morning timeslot at Dick Clark’s American Bandstand Theatre next year,” said Sullivan. “I have been and continue to be a Gatlin Brothers fan and friend.”

Also new in 2008…The Rankin Brothers Classic Music Revue will debut at the Welk Resort Theatre in March and run through December. Matt and Mark Rankin, along with their cast of outstanding musicians and performers, will present timeless, classic hits covering six decades of music. These genuine, talented brothers thrill audiences with their authentic renditions of the most-beloved songs of all time.

The fast-paced variety show will feature the Rankin Brothers backed by a five-piece band, two female singers and a specialty/comedian act. Based on their belief that classic music is timeless, the Rankin Brothers project a love and respect for the music they play, re-creating perfect renditions of favorite songs. From The Everley Brothers to The Doobie Brothers, Buddy Holly and Sam Cooke to Bruce Springsteen, Simon and Garfunkel and Huey Lewis & The News, the Rankin Brothers Classic Music Revue will entertain with classic hit music which appeals to all generations.

Along with their considerable vocal and musical talents, the Rankin Brothers have the showmanship that audiences of all ages adore. Multi-media technology will add a modern element to the performance with rich, eye-catching films, stills, graphics and audio.
“Mark and Matt Rankin have dreamt about moving to this great community and performing full-time for many years” said Sullivan. “They’ve really honed their performance skills in Texas, playing for corporate, private and special events since 1989. They have the talent, charisma and heart to make it here in Branson.

“Welk-Sullivan Productions brings a proven track-record of production experience and presenting promising new talent to Branson,” said Sullivan. “We think it’s a promising partnership and an exciting new addition to the Branson entertainment scene for 2008…and many years to come.”

Darren Romeo plans to perform in Branson next year and he will be making an announcement about the venue at any time,” said Sullivan. “I’ve also become a Darren Romeo fan and friend since we launched ‘Siegfried & Roy present Darren Romeo’ in 2004.”

And returning in 2008 will be The Tillis Family Reunion starring Mel Tillis and Pam Tillis. This reunion received rave reviews for their Fall 2007 engagement at the Welk Resort Theatre and will return in 2008 from September 16 through October 25 for 38 performances.

With singer, songwriter, comedian and 2007 Country Music Hall of Fame Inductee Mel Tillis at the helm, this famously talented family delights audiences with chart-topping music and their special Tillis Family humor. Mel has recorded more than 60 albums and 36 Top Ten singles including Coca Cola Cowboy, Good Woman Blues and Southern Rains.

Daughter and country music superstar Pam Tillis combines the best of traditional and contemporary music. This CMA Female Vocalist of the Year has 3 Platinum and 2 Gold albums to her credit plus 10 Top-Five hits on the Country Music Charts including Mi Vida Loca, Maybe It Was Memphis, Shake The Sugar Tree and Cleopatra-Queen of Denial. Pam continues to record and perform hit music such as Band In The Window, from her 2007 CD “Rhinestoned,” which topped the European country music charts.

Rounding out this family reunion are singer/songwriter Mel Tillis Jr., aka “Sonny,” and perennial favorite Carrie April Tillis with her breathtaking opera singing.

Confirmed special events at the Welk Resort Theatre in 2008 include:

Welk Stars Reunion 2008, September 3 – 7; guest stars to be announced.

Tony Orlando’s Yellow Ribbon Salute To Veterans, November 11.

Additional special events/concerts to be announced.

The Welk Resort Theatre is located three miles south of Highway 76 at 1984 State Highway 165. The 2,245-seat theatre near Table Rock Lake was home to The Lawrence Welk Show from 1994 through 2004. Since 2004 Welk-Sullivan Productions has presented extended engagement shows in the theatre including Larry Gatlin & The Gatlin Brothers, Pam Tillis, The Lennon Sisters, Darren Romeo, Mel Tillis & Connie Smith, Crystal Gayle & Lee Greenwood and the Tillis Family Reunion. Special engagement concerts have featured B.B. King, The Moody Blues, The Beach Boys, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Taylor Hicks, Chuck Berry, Three Dog Night, Ray Price, Creedence Clearwater Revisited, B.J. Thomas & Billy Joe Royal, Delbert McClinton and annual week-long Welk Stars Reunion shows. The destination resort complex includes a 160-room hotel, the Stage Door Restaurant & Lounge, swimming pool, gift shop, miniature golf course, new luxury condos and, opening in 2008, an indoor/outdoor recreation center.

Information courtesy of Branson Chamber of Commerce

Image courtesy of Sullivan Shows/Welk Resort

Chateau on the Lake Resort, Spa and Convention Center in Branson, Missouri will host one of the Midwest’s largest New Year’s Eve celebrations beginning at 7:00 p.m., Monday, Dec. 31, 2007 and featuring a colossal fireworks display over Table Rock Lake to culminate an evening of fine gourmet dining, live music and champagne toasts.
The New Year’s Eve celebration starts in the Chateau’s 32,000-square foot Great Hall with a festive hors d’oeuvres reception and cash bar at 7:00 p.m., followed by a plated dinner of Filet Mignon and fresh Atlantic Shrimp, and topped off with one of the Chateau’s signature hand-made specialty desserts, all presented by Executive Chef Anthony J. Burke, CEC and his team of culinary experts.
For a more intimate dining experience, the Chateau Grille will serve a special five-course New Year’s Eve holiday meal along with their regular menu selections. Reservations are strongly advised.
At 9:00 p.m., the popular Gary Myer’s Band will take the stage in the Great Hall and rock the night away with dance favorites from the 70s and 80s, with a little R & B added to the mix. Guests in the quaint Library Lounge will be treated to an evening of top-notch live jazz music, a roaring fire, an award-winning wine, beer and cocktail menu and complimentary party favors — all with no cover charge.
To signal to guests in the Great Hall that it’s time to bid adieu to 2007, the party hats and horns, champagne and a giant balloon droop will roll out just before midnight.
In keeping with the Chateau’s signature grand style, the resort will present a spectacular fireworks display just after midnight for hotel guests and thousands of spectators whose tradition is to watch from boats on Table Rock Lake, or at one of the popular viewing locations along Highways 165 and 265.
No New Year’s celebration would be complete at the Chateau without their famous New Year’s Day Champagne Brunch featuring dozens of traditional breakfast items, along with carved meats, shellfish, cheeses, salads and decadent desserts. The Chateau’s Dixieland Band serenade during brunch is sure to inspire a few New Year’s resolutions. Brunch runs from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. in the Chateau Grille. Reservations are suggested, but not required.
To make this New Year’s Eve celebration safe and enjoyable, the Chateau is offering several overnight packages starting at just $399 per couple (including tax and service charges), which includes admission to the Great Hall Party, two drink tickets, gourmet dinner for two, fireworks display and one night in a double room. The Chateau will extend a complimentary 6:00 p.m. checkout time to guests departing on New Year’s Day. Area residents can take advantage of the Spa Chateau’s local discount on a variety of new Spa treatments starting in 2008.
Chateau on the Lake, known for its superb mountain top location and world-class hospitality, is Southwest Missouri’s only AAA four-diamond resort. Chateau offers a wealth of recreational amenities for guests including the new $6 million Spa Chateau, heated indoor and outdoor pools and hot tubs, 24-hour fitness center, nature trail, two lighted tennis courts and a full-service marina. Other offerings include The Crawdaddies Kids Club with castle playground, a movie theatre, full-service concierge, two shops and five restaurants and lounges including lake-view dining at the award-winning Chateau Grille. A stunning 10-story sky-lit atrium lobby complete with running streams brimming with Koi fish, lush foliage, exotic flowers and towering trees adds a touch of drama to every arrival.
Information courtesy of Branson Chamber of Commerce
Image courtesy of Chateau on the Lake

Branson is a great place to spend New Year’s Eve. Here are a few more ways to celebrate:

Magnificent 7 New Years Eve Celebration ~Dinner & Show or Show Only~ Complete with party favors, balloon drop, and a toast!

The Magnificent 7 Branson’s Ultimate Music Variety Show introduces an array of multi-talented performers backed by Branson’s finest musicians. These entertainers will take you on a magnificent two-hour musical adventure. An unbelievable 150 costume changes and 50 different musical productions which include, country, swing, nostalgia, gospel, film & Broadway musicals will amuse and delight the entire family!

New Years Eve Celebration complete with party favors, balloon drop, and a toast.Guests can choose from show and dinner, or to attend just the show. Show only guests are asked to arrive after 8:00 p.m. Show begins at 9:00 p.m. Dinner is served from 6:30-8:30pm

VIP SHOW & DINNER
Upscale Buffet includes:
Prime rib w/ au jus
Chilled shrimp
Battered cod
Caesar salad with fresh parmesan and croutons
Seafood salad
Roasted garlic mashed potatoes
California steamed vegetables
Imported and domestic cheese
Fresh baked bread
Gourmet carrot cake

WEST WING SHOW & DINNER:
Buffet includes:
Top round of beef w/ au jus
Baked pork loin
Battered shrimp
Caesar salad with fresh parmesan and croutons
Bowtie pasta salad
Roasted garlic mashed potatoes
California steamed vegetables
Assorted domestic cheese
Dinner rolls
Assorted gourmet cheese cake

Beverages: Coffee, iced tea and water
Cash Bar:Assorted BeerAssorted Wine

New Year’s Eve Celebration Dick Clark Style~Kick Off 2008 with Branson’s Biggest New Year’s Eve Celebration at Dick Clark’s American Bandstand Theater!

This incredible New Year’s Eve Show is hosted by movie star and pop icon FABIAN and stars the legendary BOBBY VEE with special guests THE CHIFFONS, BRIAN HYLAND and CHRIS MONTEZ. Show starts at 9p.m. Sting Ray & The Super Vee’s will be Rockin’ in the lobby 7- 8 p.m. Show tickets include: Party Favors & Hats, Cash Bar, Balloon Drop, and Champagne Toast at Midnight.

Jim Stafford’s New Year’s Eve Celebration~Your evening with Jim Stafford includes a fun-filled show, hors d’ oeuvres, sparkling non-alcoholic wine, party favors and hats, a special keepsake gift and lots of New Year’s Eve surprises.

The red carpet treatment is what it’s all about at the Jim Stafford Theatre! Not only are Jim Stafford’s audiences seated in the most luxurious seats in Branson, but they can experience the Jim Stafford Show like never before. Premium surround-sound and state-of-the-art lighting makes Jim’s hilarious comedy, laser light show, and 3-D Virtual Thrill Ride an unforgettable experience. And just when you think it can’t get any better than this, Jim astounds you with his incredible guitar pickin’. From his unique version of the blues to his amazing versatility with the guitar you’ll marvel at Jim’s uncanny ability to play with your mind and strum your senses.

Pierce Arrow New Year’s Eve Show~Join us for an exciting night of fun and entertainment at the Pierce Arrow Theater in Branson, Missouri!

Pierce Arrow will perform a dynamic New Year’s Eve Show with extra songs and comedy! You will also receive party favors including hats, noise makers and leis! You will also snack on Hor ‘Doeurves and enjoy a beverage.

The evening of entertainment features the dynamic vocal group “Pierce Arrow”, including Dan Britton, who for nearly 20 years has held the World’s lowest note hit by a bass singer on earth in the Guinness Book of World Records and Branson’s funniest new comedian, Jarrett Dougherty! For an extra treat, female vocalist, Kim Boyce joins Branson’s Hottest Show! Kim is a former Miss Florida and runner-up for the Miss America Pageant and has held 11 #1 Contemporary Gospel Records in her career.

If you love smooth harmonies, great Country Music, rock-the-house Gospel, complimented with amazing patriotic medleys, hilarious comedy, and side-splitting humor, you’ll love the Pierce Arrow New Year’s Eve Show! See you New Year’s Eve!

If you are old enough to remember shopping at a “dime store” with parents or grandparents, Dick’s Oldtime 5 and 10 in downtown Branson, Missouri will delight every sense. This old-fashioned dime store operates daily in the nostalgic downtown district of one of America’s favorite resort cities. Christmas shoppers will love Dick’s Oldtime 5 and 10 because shopping here is like a trip to the past.

The store has been held the same location on a corner for more than fifty years. Every narrow aisle is filled with treasures that someone on your holiday gift list is sure to appreciate.

Upon entering the store, many visitors are stopped by the sight of working model trains that travel the rails above their heads. Others pause because the sheer amount of merchandise crammed into a single store space is astonishing. Each aisle is stocked with merchandise from floor to high above the average shopper’s head.

Dick’s claims to stock more than 40,000 nostalgic items. The varied stock includes everything from collectible figurines, toys, games, clothing, metal mesh fly swatters, pots and pans, cooking supplies, linen goods including “stamp goods” ready to embroider, novelties of every description, old-fashioned candy, and more.

Remember the toys you played with as a child or dreamed of finding on Christmas morning? Most of them can be found at Dick’s 5 and 10. Simple toys like jacks, rag dolls, checkerboards, stick horses, and more line the aisles here. Don’t look for the electronic marvels that can be found in every toy and discount department stores because they are not here. Simple china tea sets and toy cars that rely on boy powder instead of batteries are the norm.

If a cook is on your Christmas list, check out the wide selection of cooking tools and accessories. Aprons like Grandma used to wear are in stock everyday and so are things like hand-powered cheese graters, meat grinders, utility forks, and coffeepots that make coffee on top of the stove, no electric outlet needed!

Guys will find tools to their boys-at-heart content and gals can find something that their man doesn’t have in his toolbox here. From the basics like hammers and screwdrivers to various saws and fishing gear, there is a wide selection of equipment for the male members of the family.

Cloth diapers – the real thing – are found here near rubber duckies for baby’s bath. Baby shoes that don’t have designer names can be located.

Stuffed animals, ladies stocking garters, the kind of candy that grandparents remember from before World War II, wind chimes, novelty cards, Betty Boop and Coke memorabilia, and enough Elvis artifacts for the most devoted fan are here at Dick’s 5 and 10.

Find things you forgot existed until you see them on the shelf here and give gifts with nostalgic value this season. These are not replicas but practical, working items that can be used everyday or put on display with pride.

Cards that cater to the past can be found along with bobby pins, scented talc powders, hats, candles, decorations, and everything but the kitchen sink (which might well be tucked away in some corner of the store).

Wear comfortable shoes and plan to spend hours shopping the vintage goods at Dick’s 5 and 10 in Branson. The store is located downtown at 103 West Main Street or at the corner of Main and commercial.

Information courtesy of Associated Content

Planning a New Years Eve celebration for two or for the family? If you are planning on Branson, Missouri then you are in for a treat. From dining, dancing, shows, elegant lodging and New Years Eve festivities to ring in the New Year, Branson Missouri has it all.

The Grand Plaza Hotel is planning a New Year’s celebration to remember. Dinner for two is offered at their Plaza View Restaurant with a choice of four mouth watering entrees. Dine on apple scented salmon, golden fried shrimp, chicken Mediterranean or prime rib. After a delicious feast one will be entertained by the Las Vegas Hall of Fame Performer Bob Anderson followed by dancing, party favors and a New Year’s Eve toast from your own keepsake champagne glass. Double room occupancy packages at the Grand Plaza Hotel start out at $199.95 for the standard queen size to $269.95 for the honeymoon suite.

Branson, Missouri is known for its amazing shows. On December 31st, New Years Eve will be celebrated Dick Clark style. This incredible New Year’s Eve Celebration Dick Clark Style featuring Fabian & Bobby Vee is hosted by movie star and pop icon FABIAN and stars the legendary BOBBY VEE with special guests THE CHIFFONS, BRIAN HYLAND and CHRIS MONTEZ. Show starts at 9p.m. Sting Ray & The Super Vee’s will be Rockin’ in the lobby 7- 8p.m. Show tickets include: Party Favors & Hats, Cash Bar, Balloon Drop, and Champagne Toast at Midnight. Regular tickets can be purchased for $66.25 each or two tickets. If you also desire lodging right next door there is the Ramada Inn and Conference Center.

If family fun is on the agenda for New Years then Dolly Parton’s Dixie Stampede Dinner and Show is a must see event. The show features the grace and elegance of gentlemen and belles from the South along with the feats of thirty two powerful horses. The children will be fascinated by racing ostriches and the whole family will enjoy the excitement brought to the arena by the feud between the North and the South. There is even a pre-show performance to whet everyone’s appetite for the main event. Guests of this fun filled show will feast on a delectable four-course meal that includes southern favorites such as tender whole rotisserie chicken, home made biscuits, hot buttered corn on the cob and hickory smoked barbecued pork loin. This is a two hour show with two scheduled for December 31st. One begins at 5:30 p.m. and one at 8:00 p.m. Tickets are priced at $42.34 for adults and $22.34 for children 4 to 11. Dolly Parton’s Dixie Stampede Dinner and Show is a favorite in the Branson circuit so buy your tickets early and most of all enjoy!

Another favorite Branson, Missouri experience is the Showboat Branson Belle. The boat cruises scenic Table Rock Lake and is known for its spectacular show performed in its own dinner theater. “Showstoppers!” entertains with award winning musical hits from Broadway with moving screens, projections and special effects. The live performance also includes the Showboat Branson Belle Quartet and emcee, the adagio dance team that blends both acrobatics and dance, all accompanied by a live band. This exciting show is followed by a delicious three course meal prepared on the Showboat’s gallery. There will be a 4:00 p.m. show on December 31, 2006. The cruise lasts approximately two hours. Adult tickets are $50.00, tickets for children 4 to 11 are $25.00 and children 3 and under are free. A fond New Year’s Eve memory can be had with a scenic boat cruise and show on the Branson Belle.

If you are looking for a more up-scale romantic New Year’s Eve for two than look no further than Chateau on the Lake Resort, Spa and Convention Center. Be prepared to be pampered and awed by Branson’s only AAA Four Diamond Resort. Chateau on the Lake’s staff has an exceptional New Year’s Eve planned that includes fine dining and live musical entertainment. At 7:00 p.m. the doors will open to a reception of mouth watering hor d’oeuvres. Each individual will be handed two drink tickets to use at the cash bar that can be accessed throughout the evening. At 8:00 p.m. a delectable feast of Filet Mignon and Fresh Atlantic Shrimp followed by a specialty dessert will be prepared by the finest chefs. The evenings entertainment will be the Gary Myer’s Band who will perform R&B and hits of the 70’s and 80’s. The night will be capped off with a dazzling fireworks display and a ball drop at midnight.

Room Packages include admission for two to the party and accommodations for the night. For a double room the price is $399, an elegant king size room is $419, the over-sized chateau king outfitted with a sitting area and lake view is $454, and the Ambassador Suite with living room and wet bar is $509. What better way to ring in the New Year than to be treated like a king and queen at a AAA Four Diamond Resort? One can also get 25% off regular room rates by staying additional days. Branson Missouri is known for its shows and entertainment. New Year’s Eve is no exception with a plethora of events to chose from. Choose Branson Missouri and you’ll ring in 2007 with a memory that will last a lifetime.

Information courtesy of Associated Content

When you think cities known for their great restaurants, good food, fine wines … what comes to mind? New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Branson?Wait, Branson?
If a handful of creative and committed culinary professionals get their way, Branson will soon be a city everyone thinks of when it comes to treating your tastebuds to a night on the town.And why not? After a long day of shopping, shows and sightseeing, what better way to recharge your batteries than with a great meal and a cold beverage at one of Branson’s growing list of new eateries.

Up on Highway 76, music icon and veteran Branson entertainer Andy Williams recently spent more than $1.5 million to turn a financially failing sports bar into a one-of-a-kind restaurant experience featuring old family recipes, top-notch service and a pop-art collection. And down on the new Branson Landing, nearly a dozen dining destinations have opened their doors to offer tourists and locals alike a wide variety of places to break bread.

They’re listed on the Moon River Grill menu as “Andy’s favorites.”Williams admits it was the recipes he remembers his mother whipping up in the kitchen that provided much of the inspiration for the menu.

“I used my mother’s recipes for the chicken vegetable soup, for the rhubarb shortcake, for the spaghetti and meatballs, and for the meatloaf,” he said. “Pot roast, chicken pot pie, mac and cheese, and catfish are all things that I really liked. They’re what you call comfort foods.”

Although he designed and decorated the grill himself, he said he had a little help when it came to putting the menu together and perfecting the old family favorites for mass production.

“Mainly I used my brother, Don, who is the cook in the family,” Williams said. “He kept the recipes of my mother’s. He spent about two days in the kitchen with my chefs on the things that just weren’t turning out the way we wanted them to.”

Hours of work were spent on perfecting menu favorites such as the chicken pot pie, for example.

“We finally got it the way we wanted, which was with a lot of carrots and not too stiff,” he explained. “It should be creamy.”

The next step was to ensure consistency in the dishes’ preparation and presentation. “We don’t want people to come in one time and get a wonderful duck breast, and then come in another time and get one that isn’t so wonderful,” he said. “That’s what you don’t want.”

Inconsistency kills, he said.Wine and art

Not only is much of the menu based on old family favorites, the wine list offers four California varieties — a cabernet, merlot, chardonnay and white zinfandel — specifically bottled and labeled for Williams in addition to the other vintages offered.

“We made a deal with a wine company up in Napa called Round Hill Winery,” he said. “I had a wine-tasting at home with about 10 friends. Round Hill sent some samples to taste, and we picked the ones we liked the best. The ones we really liked, the ones that came out way ahead in our tasting, are the ones on the menu.”

Not in the mood for the fruit of the grape? Williams suggests a drink called a Naughty Betty. The fruity, mai tai-like beverage is named after an eye-catching painting of a chimpanzee in a dress that hangs behind the bar at Moon River Grill.

“Naughty Betty was painted by Donald Roller Wilson, a painter out of Arkansas,” Williams said. “He’s collected by a lot of celebrities. Robin Williams is a big fan of his.” Naughty Betty really is naughty, Williams emphasizes. He said to just read around the painting when you are in the bar to find out why.

“There’s a little bit of a story about Naughty Betty,” he joked. In addition to Naughty Betty, Williams displays much of his pop-art collection — including works by Andy Warhol and Roy Liechtenstein — on the walls of the restaurant’s dining room.

Located at 2600 W. Highway 76, the Moon River Grill opens at 11 a.m. daily. For more information, call (417) 337-9539.

Information courtesy of Joplin Globe

The 2007 entertainment season in Branson saw a new and unique show featuring 14 Samoan entertainers in Island Fire at the Dutton Theater. Audiences marveled at the authentic Island dance, song and fire knife performances set amidst a stage setting that recreated a Polynesian paradise.

As the Samoans prepare for their final performance of the year at the Dutton Theater on Thursday, December 6th at 2 PM, everyone in the troope was expressing gratitude for the open and friendly reception by the local community and tourists in Branson.

Although they are anxious to return home to Samoa to reunite with friends and family, they said that they will miss their many friends here in Branson. This had been their first trip to the United States and they unanimously feel that it has been a unique opportunity to expose thousands of people to their Samoan culture.

During the show’s run, the local community actively embraced the Samoans. Many were invited to share meals with local families and go on excursions to shows and tourist attractions. One family even took some of them to see the Springfield Cardinals play — their very first baseball experience.

Belle Dutton, the wife of Jonathan Dutton and a Samoan, said, “This has been a dream come true for me. I have always wanted our friends and fans to participate in the wonderful culture of Samoa – the island of the happy people. It has been a joy to have these talented young people share their lives with us for these past months. Plus they have been able to hone their talents and, in the course of promoting their show, learn new skills that will serve them well in the future in any career.”

Sheila Dutton echoed Belle’s sentiments and added, “The letters and emails that have streamed into our theater thanking us for bringing this amazing performance to Branson has been most gratifying. I know of several people who have made plans to visit the entertainers in Samoa during the next two months. What a wonderful bridge between cultures in a troubled world. We invite everyone to come for a fun-filled Thursday afternoon as we send them off with our love. And don’t forget to come early for the luau, beginning at 12:30. It is free with each full priced ticket.”

The Honorable Joe Keil, associate minister of Labor and Tourism and a member of parliament in Samoa, plans to be in attendance on Thursday. He is trying to make flight arrangements to stop in Branson on his way from Vienna to Samoa and released this statement: “The Samoan cultural dancers have had a great experience in Branson. I want to personally, and on behalf of my government, thank the Dutton family for their generosity and kindnesses to our young people. They have provided them a wonderful opportunity to share our beautiful islands with the world, and we look forward to a long and fulfilling relationship with the Duttons. We would also like to thank the community of Branson for embracing them and all the many tourists who came to see their show.”

Iafata, Pacific Champion Fire-Knife Dancer, said, “Branson is a special place to me. The Duttons helped me and my wife have a traditional Samoan wedding here — something we could not afford in Samoa. We feel like we are leaving family and look forward to our return in February. ‘Tofa’ and God bless.”

Concerning Iafata’s comment about February, Sheila Dutton told us, “The audience reaction to this show has been so great that the Samoans will be returning to Branson with a new show for the 2008 season. After spending the holidays with their families on Samoa, they will open “Hot Winter Fun” at the Dutton Theater on February 13th.”

Grand Country Square recently added Jason Pritchett, a Top Ten Finalist on NBC’s hit show, America’s Got Talent, to their show New South. New South performs in The Grand Jubilee show, daily at 8 p.m. only at the Grand Country Square.

Pritchett is not new to Branson. He has performed in shows like Lost in the 50s, Stuck on the 70s, Echo Hollow Jubilee, 50s at the Hop and Magnificent Country. He has performed on cruise ships and most recently performed with other Top Ten Finalists at the Dutton Theatre in Branson.

“I am glad to be back in Branson and excited to be a member of Branson’s Best Quartet, New South,” Pritchett said.

“All members of New South are excited that Jason will be joining us,” Mike Patrick, Grand Jubilee producer said. “What an awesome addition!”

Singing today’s country hits, as well as quartet classics from the Oak Ridge Boys to the Eagles, The Grand Jubilee is always a hit.

The high energy and versatility of the entire cast astounds audiences. From country to gospel, and 50s to modern day, this show explodes with musical fun to satisfy any age, daily at 8 p.m.

Information courtesy of Branson Daily News