**RECEIVED 2018 BLOGGING BRANSON AWARD OF EXCELLENCE**
🎶 Deck the stage with lights and garland 🎶
It’s more than beginning to look a lot like a quality holiday production around Branson and we got a taste of it during our recent #BloggingBranson trip! With over 100 shows for visitors to attend, there is no shortage of Christmas performances to enjoy while visiting this neck of the woods this time of year. Whether you’re looking for something with a country flare, a Broadway feel or a group singing some oldies, but goodies, there is likely somewhere on the Branson strip that showcases the music and family entertainment you enjoy.
I was invited as media by Stone Castle Hotel & Conference Center to visit and explore Branson. However, all opinions are 110% mine and mine alone. This post also contains affiliate links. Please see my Disclosure policy for more information.
Branson: Christmas Gets the Spotlight
As noted in my recent post summarizing what an Ozark Mountain Christmas looks like, Branson as a whole literally shuts down the last few days of October to prepare for the holiday season. This includes many of the shows around town as they transition from the regular stage set they have been using all year to one that adds a little (or a lot of) tinsel and garland. Many of the productions add performances to the schedule in order to accommodate the influx of guests that visit the area. It is honestly non-stop hustle and bustle from November 1st until December 31st!
During our recent #BloggingBranson adventure, we had the opportunity to experience a handful of these amazing shows! I mean, we crammed them in and wouldn’t have had it any other way! We laughed, we sang and we certainly walked away in a festive spirit from each performance. The majority of the shows we saw just happened to be ones we experienced back in April. However, they each implemented a holiday twist, which made it as if we were watching them for the very first time all over again.
Clay Cooper’s Christmas Express
Clay Cooper is a hooooooot! His charismatic personality is magnetic and he engages his audience as if he has known them for years. The way he comes down off the stage to converse with guests face to face speaks volumes of his genuine character and authenticity. Get him laughing and you won’t be able to stop yourself!
During the holidays, Clay and his team, which includes his wife (Tina), their two sons (Colt and Caden), Matt Gumm, Kari Garrison, the trio that is Third Power and The Clay Cooper Country Express Band, adjust the second half of their show to bring holiday cheer to the masses. Whether it’s Clay and Caden singing “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” or Kari and James Redden (Third Power) singing a heartfelt rendition of “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas,” it’s impossible to not feel like the little drummer boy is beating on the door of your heart while you’re sitting there in your seat.
This year, Tina took the time to create a fun, new comedic story-line involving Christmas toys, Santa Claus and superheroes. I kid you not ~ we were in hysterics watching this all play out on stage. It’s a must-see and a guaranteed side-splitter. When I took my boys to see it just a week after the Blogging Branson trip, their face ached after laughing so hard!
Of course, being funny has its place, but the true meaning of Christmas still penetrates the performance as the entire cast sings songs such as “God Rest Ye Merry Gentleman” and “Silent Night,” bringing the audience a peaceful reminder that the holiday season is about more than just receiving gifts.
Check our my interview with James Redden, from Third Power!!!
Branson’s Famous Baldknobbers
The Mabe Family is about to enter its 60th year of performing and humbly boasts having the longest run show in Branson. These days, grandson Brandon Mabe and his wife, Megan, command the stage and bring the audience some good ol’ country rock. Joined by Layne Victoria, Todd Bradshaw and swing Shane VanCamp (who was performing the night Blogging Branson was there), the team brings sweet harmonies to life and keeps the audience tapping and clapping throughout the performance.
Branson’s Famous Baldknobbers maintain their country flare during the first half of the show, but take the second half during this season and add some holiday spirit to the routine. Whether Megan is singing about all she wants for Christmas (driving Brandon crazy on stage) or Layne Victoria is belting out “Let It Snow,” the energy is contagious and everyone ends up singing right along.
The musical ensemble also boasts a tremendously talented instrumental section. Whether it’s Nathan on the fiddle or Grant on the guitar, the band brings its musical gifts to the stage and dazzles the audience with an amazing rendition of “Santa Claus Is Coming To Town” and so much more. Nathan even breaks from his violin at one point during the show to deliver a stellar solo performance of “Feliz Navidad.” It was impossible to not sing along!!
However, one of my absolute favorite parts of the show was the duet sung that night between Shane VanCamp and Layne Victoria as they delivered a powerful rendition of “Mary, Did You Know.” This is a song that reaches to the inner core of my heart each and every year. It’s so personal, so intimate. Shane’s and Layne Victoria’s harmonies pierced my soul and I took that moment to just close my eyes and envision every lyric that was being sung.
It’s a mama thing….
Of course ~ let’s not forget the dynamic comedy routine!!! Branson’s Famous Baldknobbers showcase antics from Droopy Drawers, Jr, and Hargus. Both characters deliver some holiday laughter throughout the course of the show, giving everyone is a reason to exercise those cheekbones!!
I had a blast interviewing Shane VanCamp!!
The Hughes Brothers Christmas Show
Now, if you followed along during our Blogging Branson trip in April, it’s no secret that the Hughes Family immediately found a very special place in my heart. These four brothers, their wives and their amazingly talented children take the stage by storm with every tap routine, every instrumental performance, every ensemble and more! They live up to their family motto that they were born to entertain in some way, shape, form or fashion and it is evident from the moment the curtain rises.
The Hughes take Christmas to a whole new level. They redesigned their entire show to reflect the season from beginning to end. This year, Marty’s wife, Cindy (Marty being the oldest of the FIVE brothers in the family ~ the middle brother having moved away to be closer to his in-laws), played an integral role in the organizing of this production and did a stellar job orchestrating each scene to perfection. The choreography is top-notch. The harmonies are breathtaking and the instrumental interludes are mind-blowing. I kid you not!!!
While the entire performance is dripping with Christmas cheer, the second half takes on a very special meaning. “Santa” makes an appearance to share his heart and admiration for the true meaning of Christmas, the birth of the Christ child. Through a series of “teach the children” moments, we learn so much about various aspects of Christmas. Many of these we tend to often take for granted. It’s very poignant and very thought-provoking, not to mention surrounded by gorgeous and powerful performances from every age group. It truly has the potential to penetrate even the hardest of hearts.
Talk about cuteness! Check out my interview with Tobler Hughes (and find out which Hughes Brother crashed it!)
Branson knows how to deliver an impactful performance. It knows how to entertain the crowds and energize the spirit that lies within. So, if you plan to visit this neck of the woods during the Christmas season, be sure to stop by and catch a show or two. Give yourself a reason to smile, laugh, tap your foot, clap your hands or just sing along with them. Branson is family ~ they love that kind of thing.
Visiting this beautiful Ozark town during the holidays is like going back home and being welcomed by family and friends.
Remember – there are over 100 shows in the Branson area. I am certain something will catch your fancy and draw your attention. If you find yourself interested in any of the above performances, you can purchase tickets for any of them by simply clicking on the appropriate links below:
- Clay Cooper’sChristmas Express: : https://claycoopertheatre.com/tickets-2/
- Branson’s Famous Baldknobbers: http://baldknobbers.com/
- Hughes Brothers Christmas Show: https://www.hughes-brothers.com/the-hughes-music-show/
We also had the opportunity to enjoy the Andy Williams’ Ozark Mountain Christmas Show! This is a festive show hosted by none other than Jimmy Osmond!!! We spent hours sitting back, relaxing and singing Christmas carols with the likes of Jimmy Osmond, the Lennon Sisters, Voices of Glory (America’s Got Talent winners) and Charlie Green (Britain’s Got Talent winner)! It was a unique performance that included ice skating and video clips showcasing various holiday memories of Andy Williams. The performing arts center is gorgeous and it was an honor and privilege to meet Jimmy and the rest of the cast after the show. This is another Branson performance you want to snag tickets to see – and early!! It sells out fast!
For more information regarding this show and tickets, visit the site by clicking here!
Wishing you all a Very Merry Christmas, Happy Hannukah and very special Holiday Season!
**Pssst ~ If you’re getting ready to travel for the holidays, here are 7 Essentials my friend Clarissa believes you need to have in your carry on bag ~ holiday travel or otherwise!!!
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