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, or send me a message via our Branson Tri-Lakes News Facebook page.

Now, let’s get to it. 

Area appreciation at the Ralph Foster Museum  

Earlier this week, one of my favorite “hidden gems,” the Ralph Foster Museum at the College of the Ozarks, started area appreciation, which runs through Feb. 9 and allows residents of Stone and Taney counties free admission, and I can’t recommend going out and visiting enough.

It really is a whole lot of fun, as I found a while back when I visited the museum.

“There is literally something for everyone here,” Ralph Foster Museum Director Annette Sain once told me, and she’s right about that. This place is a “multi-generational attraction,” and you’ll find everything from special collections to clocks, watches, art, dolls, firearms and natural history.

The museum, named in honor of radio pioneer and philanthropist Ralph D. Foster, is dedicated to showcasing the history and heritage of the Ozarks region, which in turn, shares much history about America and the American way of life. The museum got its start in the late 1920s thanks to then-President of the School of the Ozarks Dr. Robert M. Good. 

The museum began in the basement of Abernathy Hall, a boys’ dormitory on campus.

According to Sain, it started off small with a couple of collections until it “overtook the basement, and it grew from there.” The dorm was eventually vacated, and funds were provided to convert the entire building into a museum. Foster, who founded KWTO, as well as the “Ozark Jubilee” television show, became involved with the museum in the 1960s.

Today, the museum has grown to occupy three floors, all housing different items and exhibits featuring thousands of objects representing archaeology, history, antiques, natural history, fine arts, geology and mineralogy. There’s also the largest gun collection in the Midwest, hundreds of dolls and toys, and  an exhibit dedicated to Rose O’Neill, an internationally known artist, cartoonist, illustrator, writer, poet, women’s suffrage activist and creator of the Kewpies.

The museum also houses an art museum, as well as an exhibit on the history of country music in Branson, and features instruments, photos, clothing and more from many artists who performed in Branson. Other items and exhibits on display throughout the museum include a pistol owned by Morgan Earp, a rifle owned by Pancho Villa and other cowboy items.

My favorite exhibit, of course, is the truck the Clampett family owned on the “The Beverly Hillbillies” TV show, a 1921 Oldsmobile Model 46 Roadster.

“The producer of the show, Paul Henning, was from Missouri, and they actually filmed five episodes of the show at Silver Dollar City,” Sain said. “After the show ended in the mid-70s, the truck went into storage out in Hollywood. The director and several other people started a letter-writing campaign encouraging Henning to maybe donate it to the museum, and he thought it was a great idea, so it happened.

“I think we got it in 1977.”

Do yourself a favor and check it out.

The hours of operation for the Ralph Foster Museum are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Saturday.

For more information on the museum, call 417-690-3407, or visit

‘Beauty and the Beast’ set for Historic Owen Theatre  

After quite an impressive 2018 campaign, the Branson Regional Arts Council, BRAC, is coming out of the gate with their largest production ever, a musical production based on the Academy Award-winning film, “Disney’s Beauty and the Beast” at the Historic Owen Theatre.

“This is our largest theatrical production ever, and due to the popularity of this show, there will be 10 performances between Feb. 21 and March 3,” said Executive Director of the Branson Regional Arts Council Jim Barber. “Tickets are selling quickly, and we anticipate that most shows will sell out. 

“Therefore, advance seat reservations are recommended.” 

The sets are under construction, costuming is well underway and rehearsals are set for this romantic and beloved take on the classic “tale as old as time.” The musical story follows Belle, a young woman in a provincial town, as well as  the Beast, who is really a young prince trapped under the spell of an enchantress. If the Beast can learn to love and be loved, the curse will be lifted, and he’ll be transformed into his former self, but time is running out. 

If the Beast does not learn his lesson soon, he and his household will be doomed for all eternity.

The BRAC production of “Disney’s Beauty and the Beast” is the first of 10 major theatrical events this season. This show is set to feature nearly 50 cast members, with several principal actors sharing roles during the two week run as an alternating “Purple” and “Gold” casts.

Principal actors in the “Purple” cast include Perry Harper as “Beast/Prince Adam,” Brenna Kellem as “Belle,” Jacob Estes as “Gaston,” Alex Harris  as “Lumiere/Monsieur D’Arque,” and Kristen Dasto as “Babette.”

Principal actors in the “Gold” cast include Perry Harper as “Beast/Prince Adam,” Kellsey Bradley as “Belle,” Kyle Bradley as “Gaston,” Jordan Alexander-Holt as “Lumiere/Monsieur D’argue,” and Sarah Sutherland as “Babette.”

Additional cast members in all performances include Sarah Williams as “Mrs. Potts” for the first week, Jen Frost as “Mrs. Potts for the second week, David Burgio as “LeFou,” Sean Neil Myers as “Maurice,” Robert Montgomery as “Cogsworth,” Liam Hill as “Chip/Young Price,” Casey Chambers as “Madame de la Grand Bouche,” Emily Alphin, Velvet Case and Dani Groff as “Silly Girls,” and Mesa Mitchell as “Enchantress/Ensemble.”

Ensemble cast members in all performances include Sylvie Barbour, Haley Bertrand, Seanna Bounds, Selah Bounds, Shamarah Bounds, Sofe Bounds, Julie Brinkman, Cassandra Carter, Sophie Douglas, Alexis Fischer, Jael Frost, Pace Gillman, Hallie Groff, Brynleigh Hill, Kaitlyn Jenanian, Jonathan Kirkland, Mindy Law, Cameron Morrison, Jake Musser, Julie Musser, Laurie Payne, Dylan Pratt, Sydney Pride, Megan Rodgers, Destiny Taylor, and Bekah Williams.


Shows and cast schedules are:

Feb. 21 - 7 p.m. Purple Cast

Feb. 22 - 7 p.m. Gold Cast

Feb. 23 - 2 p.m. Purple Cast

Feb. 23 - 7 p.m. Gold Cast

Feb. 24 - 2 p.m. Purple Cast

Feb. 28 - 7 p.m. Gold Cast

March 1 - 7 p.m. Purple Cast

March 2 - 2 p.m. Gold Cast

March 2 - 7 p.m. Purple Cast

March 3 - 2 p.m. Gold Cast


Upcoming musicals and plays at the Historic Owen Theatre include “Into The Woods” April 4-15, “Chicago” May 2-5, “Shrek The Musical Jr.” June 6-9, “25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” July 18-21, Forte presents “Shakespeare’s Hamlet” July 28-Aug 5, “Steele Magnolias” Aug 29-Sept 1, “Of Mice & Men” Sept 19-23, “South Pacific” Oct 31-Nov 10, and a special Christmas production Dec 5-15.

Season passes are on sale now allowing patrons to select anywhere from four to 10 2019 season productions. For more information and prices visit

For tickets, visit, or call the Historic Owen Theatre at 417-336-4255.

‘Legends in Concert’ open at Dick Clark’s American Bandstand Theater  

The “Legends in Concert” tribute show, which features incredible look- and sound-alike artists performing the biggest hits of yesterday and today, opened Friday night at Dick Clark’s American Bandstand Theater.

I cruised by the theater earlier this week to watch rehearsals, and believe me when I tell you, this lineup is loaded.

The “spring lineup” features tributes to Elvis Presley, the Blues Brothers, Kenny Chesney, Bruno Mars and Aretha Franklin from Feb.-April, followed by  Donna Summer in May.

Once again Ryan Pelton, an international, award-winning Elvis Tribute Artist who was declared the “World Champion” when he won the Worldwide Images of the King Contest in 2001, will perform his tribute to Elvis Presley.

Clint Nievar and Danny Z are also back doing their tribute to “Joliet” Jake and Elwood Blues, the Blues Brothers, local favorite Todd Bradshaw, who spent the last few years as a member of “Branson’s Famous Baldknobbers,” is returning to perform his tribute to Chesney, while Lori Mitchell-Gay who, unlike last year when she performed as Tina Turner, this time, she’s channeling her inner  “Queen of Soul” Aretha Franklin. 

Mitchell-Gay is performing through February. Once Mitchell-Gay completes her February dates, Diane Gordon will take over. Gordon is making her Branson debut. From May 1-31, Rainere Martin will perform her tribute to Donna Summer.

Finally, the “spring lineup” will feature newcomer Ryan Jagru, a performer with Branson ties, who will perform his tribute to Bruno Mars.

Like always, “Legends” features four different lineups, and the “spring lineup” runs through May 21.

Like I said, I caught rehearsals earlier this week, and there’s all sorts of new tunes, bits and hits, and I can’t wait to catch it with all the production quality this show has become known for.

‘Branson International Film 

Festival set for April 4-7

Film makers from 30 countries and 23 states are set to gather together for an “unprecedented” event, the Branson International Film Festival, set for April 4-7 at the Best Western Downtown Branson, and the White House Theater.

“It is our second year of operation and we had a 24.5 percent growth over last year’s event,” said Deborah Watson, founder of the event. “It’s humbling and exciting to be a part of the new growth that is taking place in our community.”

 According to a release, this event is perfect for “authors, playwrights, script writers, cinematographers, musicians, producers, directors, actors, actresses, students,” movie buffs, and “dreamers who have thought ‘I would like to do that.’”

April 5 and 6 will see the festival focus on “the movies and the people who made them.”

“We want and need the local community to come and watch the films,” Watson said. “The audience voice is one of the reasons we create movies. It will be different than ‘going to the movies’ because with most of them, you’ll be able to meet the people who created them.”

On Friday and Saturday morning, classes are available to learn from novelist Rene Gutteridge, Integrity Investor expert Mark Minnella, V.P. of acquisition for ParablesTV and UpliftTV Isaac Hernandez, as well as a panel including  local singer/songwriter, actor, producer, director Steven Brown, local actress, writer, producer Debbie Sutcliffe, Texas-based actor, producer, writer Randall Oliver, and Florida-based writer, producer, director Chris Florence.

In addition to the movies, there are also special events scheduled throughout the festival. April 4 will see a kickoff concert will be with Irish musician Keith Harkin. According to Watson, she learned of Harkin while he was on tour with Celtic Thunder. 

“He’s like an Irish version of a modern-day Johnny Cash,” she said. “The stories he tells through his music are unforgettable.”

Opening for him will be Jeremy Miller, a local artist that also starred in the short film “Taneycomo,” which is currently running on and

April 5 will see the attendee’s staying at the Best Western Downtown Branson hearing from local pastor Chris Davis from the Kings Chapel Church, as well as musician Joshua Hill. Others will gather together at the White House Theater and hear from singer/songwriter Tricia Bartig from St. Louis.

April 6 sees everyone will gather together at the White House Theater to hear from founder of the Hollywood Prayer Network, Karen Covell. She and her husband Jim, a composer from Los Angeles, will perform a special presentation for musicians, singers and songwriters only called “Music- the emotional voice of a movie.” 

Attendees must preregister as seating is limited. Names can be added to the list by emailing

Saturday night, singer/songwriters Bryan Duncan, Gary Koreiba, Kim Boyce and a special appearance by Deanna Duggar are the highlights of the evening. Tickets for that show are available to the public.

Sunday morning will see  Cameron “Camy” Arnett make an appearance at the festival. Folks may recognize his face from shows like “Miami Vice,” “Star Trek,” “Doogie Howser, MD” “Tyler Perry’s Meet the Browns,” or the new Kendrick brother film Overcomer.”

Sunday afternoon is a special VIP meeting. Following that meeting, organizers will announce the winners to their “Challenge 24” contest.

All entries had 24 hours to write a 24 paged, compelling script. If they passed phase one of the competition, they were then given 24 days to work with only 24 people to develop their story that could not be more than 24 minutes long. Sunday night, an awards ceremony will conclude the event. 

More details and tickets can be purchased at General public tickets available at

‘Smoke on the Mountain’ 

auditions this week

Representatives of Branson’s Imax Entertainment Complex and the Little Opry Theatre have announced open auditions for their long-running production “Smoke on the Mountain.” The auditions are set for Feb. 4 from 5-7 p.m., and from 11 a.m. until 1 p.m. Feb. 5  at the Little Opry Theater, located inside the Imax complex.

All those auditioning are asked to bring a resume, head shot, two audition songs of contrasting styles, and any instruments, especially stringed acoustic instruments, they may know how to play. Perspective cast members are also asked to have any background tracks ready on a CD. A piano will be present and available to play, but no accompanist will be present to play sheet music.

“Smoke on the Mountain” is an off-Broadway musical comedy that was written by Connie Ray and conceived by Alan Bailey. 

The cast consists of seven singers, performers and musicians taking on the roles of Stanley, Denise, Dennis, Burl, Vera, Pastor Oglethorpe and June.

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