by Bruce Menzies

It’s been said the neon lights are bright on Broadway. I don’t know as I’ve never been there myself. Fortunately for me and others who don’t travel much, we can get a taste of Broadway in Branson, Missouri.

Back in the day, when Branson was all about country music, and every music show fiddled a mandatory version of “The Devil Went Down to Georgia” or “The Orange Blossom Special,” who would have thought we would have Broadway-type variety shows on Highway 76? Today you need only drive down Country Music Boulevard or Shepherd of the Hills Expressway to see shows that promote not only rich vocals but excellent acting skills as well. Broadway has come to Branson!

One of the shows I’ve seen this year was at the Sight & Sound Theatre and two were at the King’s Castle Theatre. Both theaters are beautifully designed and each have great acoustics, lighting, ample stage area, and did I mention big sound?

To date, the Sight & Sound Theatre has produced only shows of Biblically-based narratives: Jonah and the Whale, Noah and the Ark, Samson, Miracle of Christmas, and the really big show this year—Moses. (Yes, the waters DO part and yes, you WILL believe.) There is a large cast of actors and actresses, each singing ensemble or solo and acting with such passion as to bring to life the story told. My grandkids loved the live animals which added considerably to the production along with great music. At the end of the production a cast member invites the audience to approach the stage if one is seeking a prayer partner.

How awesome is it to have a huge production like such this and a “mission” to sow the Word of God into the lives of customers, guests, and fellow workers by visualizing and dramatizing the scriptures through the use of God-given talents and resources?

It is no small feat producing a new show. According to their Website, the entire process—from initial concept to opening day—spans forty-two months, with nearly all of the work being completed by Sight & Sound employees. This includes story development and script writing, set and costume design and construction, choreography and staging, animal training, casting and rehearsals. Whew!

Across town at the King’s Castle Theatre, my ninety-four-year-old mother and myself really enjoyed Puttin’ on the Ritz. Here, the music of George Gershwin, Cole Porter, and Irving Berlin is saluted in a star-spangled way that has to be seen in person to appreciate. Once again a sizeable cast is singing and acting through the hits such as: Anything Goes, Easter Parade, I Got Rhythm, Steppin’ Out, and Puttin’ on the Ritz. The show is beautifully choreographed and staged with appropriate props.

The very next week, the same dynamic duo--Mother and I—returned to the Castle to see Broadway—The Greatest Hits. All the singing and dancing gave up a glittering salute to the best of Broadway. We would have had to travel to Broadway for the last fifty years to hear all the theme songs we heard in just two hours from the greatest plays of all time. Plays such as: 42nd Street, Phantom of the Opera, Les Misérables, Cats, Chicago, Oklahoma, My Fair Lady, Chorus Line, Wicked, Hairspray, and Mamma Mia!

If you enjoy the music from Broadway or the timeless songs from Ira and George Gershwin, Cole Porter, and Irving Berlin, I encourage you to see this show soon. (Remember, life is uncertain.)

Broadway Comes to Branson


Branson Beat

Click for larger image. Click for larger image. Click for larger image.

Moses, the reluctant prophet, meets God in the burning bush on the holy mountain.

The music of Gershwin, Porter, and Berlin is alive and well in Branson, Missouri.

Click here for pictures from the production "Moses."

Sight and Sound Theatre in Branson, Missouri.

Click here for King's Castle Theatre Website.

King’s Castle Theatre in Branson, Missouri.

So who has the most theater seats? Broadway or Branson?

FYI: According to the Internet Broadway Database (IDBD), Broadway offers 49,775 theater seats. Website states Branson has 64,057 seats. That being said IDBD also stated from May 28, 2017 through July 31, 2017 theaters averaged 88.8 percent of the seats sold. Sadly, Branson cannot state the same.

Theater versus Theatre

So when did everybody begin calling their theater a theatre? What’s the difference?

According to the Internet source “The Grammarist,” in most contexts, there is no difference in meaning between theater and theatre. Neither has any special definitions in general usage. The main thing that most English speakers and learners need to know is that theater is the preferred spelling in American English, and theatre is preferred virtually everywhere else.

Some Americans do make distinctions—for instance, that a theater is a venue while theatre is an art form, or that a theater is a movie theater while a theatre is a drama venue. There is nothing wrong with making these distinctions, but they are not consistently borne out in general usage.

Clearly, if you are a British writer, or an American writer writing to a British audience, the correct spelling for you is theatre. Theater is the preferred spelling in American English for all senses of the word. Unless theatre is used in the proper name of a building, production company, etc., theater is the correct spelling in American English.

So with this “rule” in mind we would say King’s Castle Theatre is a great theater.