[ General ]

Branson’s 53 Theaters Shine with Music, Dance and Drama

For those who have difficulty making a decision when all the choices seem good, Branson is becoming increasingly complicated.

But the mid-America entertainment hot spot is heaven for those who delight in having lots of options, including music, comedy, big production-style theater and a wholesome good time. With 53 theaters offering two or three shows a day, as well as more than a dozen museums, four theme parks, numerous outdoor activities, shopping and restaurants, making a choice could be a challenge.
About 100 shows play here on any given day. To help you decide which to see, here’s a primer. We describe shows that will run throughout the summer and in major theaters, independent of theme parks or other venues.
What’s new

The 339,000-square-foot Sight & Sound Theatre, which opened May 23, is the biggest building in Branson. Sight & Sound Theatres, with headquarters in Strasbourg, Pa., has been dubbed the “Christian Broadway,” because of the company’s high-quality productions of biblical stories. Noah – The Musical, complete with more than 100 live animals and 200 animatronics, plays Tuesday through Saturday until Christmas. Aisle seats afford the best view of the animals as they board the ark.

Making his first appearance in Branson in September will be Grammy winner Joe Diffie, whose “John Deere Green” and “If the Devil Danced in Empty Pockets” were No. l hits. He’ll be onstage at 8 p.m. at the Yakov Smirnoff Theatre. Mr. Diffie includes the comedy of Paul Harris in his show.
New location
Liverpool Legends, a Beatles tribute in its third season, is at the Starlite Theatre. Fifties at the Hop has been playing in Branson for 14 years but only now has landed its own theater by the same name. Located in the Shoppes at Branson Meadows on Gretna Road, the new setting includes an expanded refreshment area and lobby that’s almost as entertaining as the show inside. Look for additional room to dance in the aisles and a surprise rebel without a cause.
Liverpool Legends, a critically praised Beatles tribute in its third season, is in a new location, at the Starlite Theatre. Be in your seats 15 minutes before showtime to see news film from the Fab Four’s U.S. tours. Louise Harrison, elder sister of George Harrison, is on hand to answer questions, and showgoers dance in the aisles.
New acts

The Rankin Brothers, who are from Trophy Club, have realized one of their career goals by landing a full-time gig in Branson at the Welk Resort Theatre. Their musical revue of everything from Neil Diamond to Buddy Holly to George Strait keeps hands clapping and toes tapping, just as when Matt and Mark Rankin played at the Garland Theatre. The suit Mark wears during the Elvis numbers was reputedly designed for the King himself.

The Roy Rogers-Dale Evans Happy Trails Theater adds the duo’s grandson to the lineup. Dustin Roy Rogers, who has served as general manager of the theater and museum since it opened five seasons ago, moves to the stage with his father and the High Riders. In addition to a couple of duets with his father and a solo of “Night Rider’s Lament,” Dustin shares memories of his grandparents.
Ann-Margret is joining Andy Williams at the Moon River Theatre through July 26. She first visited Branson with Andy in 2004. This season’s show returns the duo to a 1960 screen test for the movie State Fair.
Plan lunch or dinner at the adjacent Moon River Grill, which opened in 2007. Andy eats a meal or two there each day, enjoying pot roast and rhubarb shortcake from his mother’s recipes. He usually brings a celebrity guest or two to lunch with him.
Information and Images courtesy of The Dallas Morning News

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