The Three Redneck Tenors + Todd Oliver and Friends + Joseph Hall’s Elvis Rock N Remember Tribute + Cassandre Haygood and Friends = 4 great reasons to head over to the new Americana Theater!
I had the privilege to attend a VIP night at the Americana Theater where I was exposed to all four shows during a two hour sneak preview. The VIP show was hosted by a few of the Haygood brothers who provided the audience with entertainment, a raffle drawing, and a touching testimony of their experiences with the recent tornado in between acts. The night was a fun one – audience members munched on popcorn and sipped on sodas that came free with the VIP event and performers from other shows who attended were recognized by the entertainers. But better than sitting next to some of Branson’s entertainers and hardworking staff of other service industries, snacking on complimentary concessions, and having the opportunity to win one one of many prizes given away at the raffle was being exposed to the level of talent present at the new Americana Theater.
After a few brief introductions, the show got started with Cassandre and Friends. Featuring an 11 piece live orchestra, Cassandre (and her friends) showcase musicality that can be matched by very few. Cassandre performed numbers such as “As Long As I’m Singing”, “It Don’t Mean a Thing (If it Ain’t Got That Swing)”, and a tribute to Whitney Houston with a rendition of “I Will Always Love You”. Cassandre’s voice is incredible; suited for swing, jazz, and the classics, she performs seemingly challenging songs with ease. Although it would be possible (and enjoyable) just to listen to her voice for an entire show, Cassandre makes it a point to feature her band. Especially notable is the fact that her husband, Timothy Haygood is a member of her band and is featured in the show. In addition to a diverse range of beautiful music that characterizes Cassandre and Friends, Cassandre also demonstrates an impressive ability to entertain through comedy, elaborate costume changes, and a genuine connection with the audience. And I only saw the preview.
If you’ve got suspicious minds about how many more great acts the new Americana Theater can hold, let me tell you about Joseph Hall. In his show, Elvis Rock N Remember, Joseph Hall provides support for his notable list of accolades he’s received because he’s one of the top Elvis tribute artists in the world today. After finishing in the top ten of America’s Got Talent, Joseph Hall toured for a little while before settling down in Branson. His performance style is unmistakeably Elvis in nature; from the costume to the hair to the stage to the voice to the dance moves, Hall has obviously embraced his role as an Elvis tribute artist. With an electrifying stage set-up, talented background vocalists, dancers, and band members, and Hall crooning Elvis’s songs impeccably, this is one Elvis tribute that will have you all shook up.
I had the pleasure of seeing the Todd Oliver and Friends preview, even though I’ve already been to his show this season. In his preview, Oliver packed a punch of entertainment, showcasing his versatility and talent on stage. Starting with an original number by his band The Smiling Eyes, Oliver quickly transitioned into an act with his beloved dog Irving, the talking dog. Talking dog?! If you’ve yet to hear about Oliver and his talking dog (assisted by ventriloquism) from people like David Letterman or Jay Leno, let me tell you that Oliver’s conversations with his four-legged friend are not to be missed. Irving barks out plenty of jokes that get the audience howling. And, if being the voice of a dog wasn’t enough to impress, Oliver gathered a couple audience volunteers and helped them speak (and sing) what was on their minds. Funny, unique, and talented, Todd Oliver stars in a show that is great for the entire family.
The Three Redneck Tenors flushed out the previews. Did I just say ‘flushed out’? Get this for a show introduction: the three tenors stumbled out of an outhouse onstage to begin their performance. The outhouse, a woodchipper (with feet sticking out of it), a flock of pink flamingo statues, and a light-up Santa were only a few of the stage props that helped get audience members in the mindset for some redneck entertainment. With their attire consisting of raggedy tank tops, cowboy boots, patched up overalls, and mullets, you’d never expect these guys to come with voices that sound like they could grace Broadway stages. The Three Redneck Tenors boast beautiful voices that harmonize perfectly and make any song sound like a smash hit. From their renditions of several television theme songs, to their performance of some classics, the redneck tenors never miss a note. The jokes of the redneck tenors might be laugh-out-loud funny, but their talent is seriously good.
The preview night offered little inside-looks at each show offered at the Americana Theater and I really enjoyed them all! I also appreciated hearing an ‘off-stage’ story about the how the theater was hit by the tornado. As I explained in my post about Todd Oliver and Friends that I wrote a little while back, the Americana Theater was hit by the tornado. Two of the Haygood brothers explained how the tornado proved to be a bonding experience for members of their show, cast, family, staff, and for the community as a whole because of how quickly they all came together to repair the damage and start again. Despite the fact that the tornado damage was difficult to overcome, the Haygood brothers explained how touched they were to live and work in a community where everyone sought to help them out after the tornado. Rather than people scouring the streets for expensive equipment to loot, or leaving town after realizing that work might not be possible for a while, people flocked to the scenes of the disaster to offer a helping hand and words of encouragement.
The Haygoods also explained how one of their staff members had been checking sound in the sound booth twenty minutes before the theater was hit. Thankfully and miraculously, no one in Branson was injured or died because of the tornado. However, as the Americana Theater is an example of, hundreds of livelihoods were affected the day that the theater was hit. Hearing about the tornado from the Haygoods’ perspective was significant to me because my house was destroyed by the tornado. Many of the Haygoods’ thoughts about the tornado mirror my own; I am entirely grateful and thankful that no one was hurt in the tornado, and my family has experienced the same generosity and selflessness from the community that the members of the Americana Theater did. When the tornado hit, it brought my neighbors and my family closer, members of the fire department came out on their own time to help clean up and look for our belongings, and I truly became aware of how much of a genuine community we live in.