by Linda Burlingame
2018 is the 16th year for The Grand Jubilee, a fast-paced mix of grand music, rollicking comedy, and rousing gospel. The fun starts even before the show begins, when Master of Ceremonies Mike Patrick comes on stage to greet the audience. Enter the â€œstage manager,â€ aka â€œJim Dandy.â€ Dressed in a day-glow orange suit, itâ€™s comic relief before you know it! Mike canâ€™t help laughing along with the audience â€” a fun start to an entertaining evening.
Country and gospel classics, Top 40, and rock â€˜nâ€™ roll hits from the 70â€™s thru the 90â€™s â€¦ youâ€™ll hear all your favorites. Vocalist Jackie Brown spent several years in Nashville, on stage with legends like Dolly Parton and Porter Wagoner. Singing a country melody or a pop tune, she delivers a powerful performance. The audience loves her! New South is Bransonâ€™s favorite quartet. Many Branson visitors will remember bass singer Mark McCauley from Mel Tillisâ€™s show. Lead singer David Ragan, Jr., tenor Luke Menard, and tenor baritone Jon Drockleman round out the group that is so popular with Branson audiences.
Mike Patrick weaves the entire production together, whether dazzling us with his skill and antics at the piano or playing along with Jim Dandyâ€™s hijinks. (Or dressing up as the sheriff!?) Jamie Haage is â€œJim Dandyâ€ â€” and more hilarious characters. But heâ€™s not just a pretty face. Later in the show youâ€™ll be amazed by his musical talents.
I canâ€™t say enough good things about Grand Jubileeâ€™s band â€” the Rhinestone Mafia. Made up of some of the most talented musicians anywhere, theyâ€™re outstanding whether playing country, rock â€˜nâ€™ roll, gospel or pop. Rob Blackburn, Chad Cathell, Larry Allred, Michael W. Davis, Wayne Massengale, and Gene Mulvaney combine their extraordinary talents to amaze audiences. Iâ€™ve been watching shows at Grand Country Music Hall since 1990, when the complex was called 76 Music Hall. I remember Gene Mulvaney from those years, on banjo and guitar, but mostly his proficiency on the steel guitar! Gene is the bandâ€™s musical director.
The entire cast engages with the audience, and they are as enthusiastic as the crowd. When I saw the show a few nights ago, there was the usual mix of ages in the audience. Sitting next to me was a little girl not yet two. She was totally engaged for the whole show, standing in momâ€™s lap, clapping along, smiling. Grand Jubilee is a show for the whole family!
New South has their own take on humor when they take the stage as the Village Peopleâ€™s YMCA! (Okay, now get that tune out of your head!) And yes, â€œitâ€™s fun!â€ Great costumes for this one, and for the whole show. The cast always looks grand, from classy casual and denim to stylish glitz. Megan Williams is wardrobe designer and manager; her skill and attention to detail ensure everyone looks just right. And Mike Patrickâ€™s gorgeous suits! Glamorous designs created by some of the industryâ€™s best-known designers. (I lost count of the suits!)
Mike has been an integral part of Bransonâ€™s entertainment scene for more than twenty-five years. Seventeen of those years were spent at Silver Dollar City, producing shows and events like the Great American Music Festival and an Old Time Christmas Festival. Heâ€™s been with Grand Country Music Hall since 2003 and is general manager there.
The first half of the show offers favorite songs like Ramblinâ€™ Man; Hallelujah; Timber, Iâ€™m Falling in Love; Great Balls of Fire. New Southâ€™s medley is â€œgrandâ€ â€” Bobbie Sue, All the Gold, Tomorrow Never Comes, and Play Me Some Mountain Music. Iâ€™m a child of rock â€˜nâ€™ roll and really â€œdigâ€ the 50â€™s and 60â€™s medleys in the second half. Lots of â€œElvisesâ€ get in on the act for the 50â€™s Elvis medley. The 60â€™s includes Jackieâ€™s R.E.S.P.E.C.T. â€” and I love Luke and Davidâ€™s Wake Up Little Susie. (Love those jackets, too!) There are medleys from the 70â€™s, 80â€™s, and 90â€™s â€¦ and a heavy dose of comedy when Mike and â€œJim Dandyâ€ do Sonny & Cherâ€™s I Got You Babe!
Grand Country Inn offers not only grand entertainment (Check out the other shows!) but also dining (four options, more if you count the Fudge Shop!); lodging (including rooms with Kidâ€™s Clubhouse); indoor water fun at Splash Country; indoor go-karts, laser tag, black light mini golf, Fun Spot Farm mini golf, and coming soon: an XD ride! And donâ€™t forget the Bits of Glitz shop and the big gift shop in the lobby. (Grand in size, actually.) There are perfect gifts for yourself and for your neighbor whoâ€™s taking care of your kitty cats while youâ€™re having fun in Branson, at The Grand Jubilee!