by Linda Burlingame
The Shoji Tabuchi Christmas Show is filled with music and merriment, glitter and glamour, and all the trimmings of the season. The puppeteer, the toy soldier drummers on parade, Rudolph and the Reindeer Hula … “Mele Kalikimaka!” … and Shoji’s famous jackets — I counted at least eight unique, beautifully designed ones! That variety is matched by a wonderful selection of Christmas melodies. Jeremy charmed the audience with the great Kay Starr Christmas standard, Everybody’s Waitin’ for the Man with the Bag!” Christina Lingo-Tabuchi was lovely in an aqua chiffon ballerina length gown as she sang Santa Claus Is Back in Town. And it’s fun, too, when Christina invites kids from the audience up close for Frosty the Snowman.
But my favorite segment might be Shoji’s dance with the penguins — Shoji, the extraordinarily talented violinist, dancing with the adorable penguins as he plays March of the Kings. He loves what he does! (Now we’re up to Jacket #3, red with gold! Looking ahead in the margins of my notes: Jacket #7, decorated with shimmering cactuses for Shoji’s innovative rendition of Orange Blossom Special, complete with two cows, a pickup truck, and sirens!)
Shoji came to Branson 28 years ago and joined the lineup of wonderful live Branson shows. He came to the United States from Japan as a young man, after hearing a Roy Acuff concert there. He’d been studying Suzuki method violin since he was seven. Shoji was so taken with the music of Acuff and Howdy Forrester & the Smokey Mountain Boys, he knew right away that’s what he wanted to play. After he graduated from college with a degree in economics, he came to the United States to pursue a music career. He lived in California, and later in Louisiana, “You can tell by my accent,” he jokes! Many remember Christina as just a little girl on stage in those early years here. She’s grown into a talented entertainer (and mother!), as well as producer of the show, dance captain, and vocal director. Dorothy Tabuchi works behind the scenes as executive producer.
Shoji played a wonderful arrangement of Looking Through the Eyes of Love. Band members are some of the best musicians anywhere! Sharon Todd, who met Shoji when he did a show in Florida and later joined the show, treated us to a bluegrass medley on the mandolin. Shoji shared a Cajun favorite with Big Mamou. And his tribute to Veterans is heartfelt. Shoji, an American citizen, told the audience, “United States is the greatest country in the whole wide world.”
The Shoji Tabuchi 25 Days of Christmas is on stage at The Clay Cooper Theatre, with select dates for afternoon and evening shows through December 21, 2018. It’s good to see Shoji’s show in Branson again. A fire at his beautiful Branson theater has kept Shoji and Christina, their cast and crew “on the road” for months now. I got to visit with Shoji last week, and he told me how happy they all are to be back in Branson for Ozark Mountain Christmas. The Shoji Tabuchi Show is popular across the country, but Branson is home!