• This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Jonah Sailing onto the Stage at Branson’s Sight and Sound Theatre

Avoiding clichés like “it’s a whale of a show”; I’ll simply say that Jonah is the best production that I have seen at Sight and Sound Theatre, and I’ve seen them all. The staging and effects are superb and the musical numbers are the best that I’ve heard at Sight and Sound.


A Show Everyone can Enjoy

I recently saw Jonah with some of my extended family members. We had men, women, and children ranging from 78 to 10 years old. I can honestly say that we all enjoyed the production, but perhaps for different reasons. Though there are obvious embellishments (for character development and to make it more entertaining), the Bible’s story of Jonah and the Whale is lavishly produced not only on the stage, but in the wings, down the aisles, and over the audience’s head. The technical wizardry that it must take to create three dimensional ancient cities, a fleet of boats floating across the stage, and a 50 foot ship caught in a storm at sea is mind boggling (and that’s just in the first half of the show). After intermission, the entire theatre is transformed to an undersea wonderland with schools of exotic fish swimming about, beautiful iridescent jellyfish gracefully floating above, sharks prowling for prey, and of course a giant whale swimming over your head. While I was appreciative of the special effects, the kids were awestruck! After all, this isn’t television or movies, its live theatre.


Much More than Special Effects

In addition to the technical aspects of this production, there are also some stand-out performances by the actors, costumers, and composers. The musical numbers were extremely polished and the performances of those works were well done. The vocals of the actor playing Jonah, the actress playing the Queen of Nineveh, and another female vocalist in Nineveh were inspired. Unlike many productions, the costumes weren’t just the clothes that the actors wore – they really helped to tell the story and show the evolution of the characters.


What Sets Jonah Apart from other Branson Shows?

Sight and Sounds’ productions are fundamentally different from most Branson shows in two ways. First, this is musical theatre – not a music show. There is a story with a plot and lots of character development. Second, Sight and Sound is a Christian, faith-based, company. There is plenty of entertainment at Sight and Sound, but there is also a message. In Jonah the message is about ignoring God’s will, and avoiding unpleasant tasks – or perhaps fleeing from your responsibilities. As always, the message at Sight and Sound can be related to our everyday lives. I believe this is why Biblical stories are so enduring – even though they are historic, the message is timeless.

Am I Sacrificing my Fun for the Kids?

Like all parents I often sacrifice my own fun for the sake of my kids, which is what I expected with Buckets N Boards, but not what I got. After all, it’s billed as a comedy percussion show and the brochure shows two young guys in whacky get-ups jumping around, wearing goofy wigs and shoving things up their nose – who wouldn’t think it’s a juvenile show (appealing only to juveniles)?

I’ve been aware of Buckets N Boards, playing at the Clay Cooper Theatre in Branson, for a few years now, but always managed to side-step it for a show I thought would still be fun for the kids, but fun for Mom and Dad, too – I spend a lot of money when I take my family to a show and want as much bang for my buck as I can get. Just a few days ago, over Spring Break, we “sacrificed” and went to Buckets N Boards – all I can say is WOW!


Talent of Matt and Gareth for All Ages

Sure the kids loved it, but so did the adults. The two man show of Matt Levingston and Gareth Severs delivers on every level. Sure it’s sometimes loud (Hello… It’s Percussion), there’s juvenile antics, jumping around, and crazy cornball comedy… And I loved every minute of it. As expected, my 10 year old said Buckets N Boards was the best show we saw over Spring Break, and I must agree, it was pretty exceptional. These two guys have Charisma plus. They are wickedly talented in percussion, comedy, dance, and music (both sing well and play instruments). I think now, having seen the show, I would say it’s not juvenile – it’s innovative!


Over and Beyond at Intermission

I’m sure I’m not the only parent or grandparent to have been won over. At intermission, both performers made themselves available in the merchandise booth, and intermission ran long so that everyone could get that personal experience with the stars – something I’ve always appreciated in Branson shows. The littlest kids wanted to get an up close experience, older kids wanted to get their own drum sticks and learn to be like them, and the teens and adults just wanted to hang out with two awesomely cool dudes.

My suggestion to readers, especially readers with kids – find a way to see this 2PM show at The Clay Cooper Theater. Buckets N Boards performs out on tour as well, so it is only in Branson in March, June, July and August, and it doesn’t play every day. If you can see them in Branson, or catch one of their shows while touring, do it – you won’t be disappointed.

The Haygoods Offer a Unique Rock & Roll Perspective.


Michael Haygood was an internet sensation with his Iron Man video. Though it wasn’t in the sold-out show that my family saw last week there were plenty of other songs that were simply amazing, and it may give you an idea of what I mean about The Haygoods rocking.

The sibling group of, Timothy, Patrick, Dominic, Michael, Matthew, and Catherine Haygood have been honing their talents in Branson since they were very small children. Being originally from Texas, the family’s roots are in the tight harmonies of country music, which you can hear in some of their numbers. However, The Haygoods add their own perspective. For instance, John Denver’s “Country Roads” is definitely country, but I’ve never heard it mashed up with The Eagles’ version of “Seven Bridges Road” (which was pure genius). Having said that, you wouldn’t expect them to have a rock or pop sound, but believe me – they do!

With many live shows there’s a band playing behind the stars of the show, but with The Haygoods all you have is a drummer and The Haygoods. Each member of the family plays a variety of instruments (20 in all). Timothy and his Banjo added some comedic elements to the show, and it was nice to see Catherine playing the Harp (an uncommon instrument in Branson). I’ve always enjoyed listening to the Saxophone and Dominic Haygood did a very righteous rendition of ‘Unchained Melody’. I could hear his passion for the instrument in his performance and he had our sold-out crowd on the edge of our seats.

My family, like many, spans a broad age range. Though my 10-year-old really liked the show, my 21-year-old thought “it was the bomb” (which stands for great in his vernacular). My wife and I enjoyed the show immensely, and we loved the fact that we didn’t waste our time and/or money taking the kids to something they would later say was lame. Parents of teens will know what I mean.

The Haygoods will be at the Clay Cooper Theatre for the 2014 and 2015 season in Branson. Since they don’t perform every day, and are wickedly popular, I would recommend making reservations early. My family was in the next-to-last row on the main floor and felt fortunate because a lot of people were turned away at the box office.

Clay Cooper’s Country Express Music Show

My family and I have seen the show several times, and just got another chance last week. The biggest strength of Clay’s show is its lack of weaknesses. The show has so much variety that I know I’ll leave something out, but there’s country music (of course), modern ballet, rope twirling, impersonations, clogging, whip cracking, gospel music, outrageous comedy, rock and roll, gun slinging, and pop music.

Simply put, if you don’t like an element of the show, it doesn’t matter because you’ll probably like the next one. No one performs the country standards like Clay – he does them all justice, but adds his own unique spin. Matt Gumm, in addition to being a talented singer and musician, is one the funniest guys on stage. He also deserves kudos for his impersonations of Joe Cocker, Michael Jackson, and several others.

Although Clay Cooper’s Country Express is just as professional as all the Branson shows are, I think it hits the audience on a much more personal level. When we leave the show we know we’ve been entertained, but we also feel like we made some new friends. This is partly because, unlike a lot of performers, Clay takes time to get to know people in the audience and have fun with them. By doing so he involves us all in the show. Some could say that he has fun at their expense, but it’s harmless and heart-warming.

Among my favorite parts of the show are the gospel numbers. R.P. Harrell, in addition to being an accomplished musician and musical director, has one of the most soulful voices in Branson. His gospel singing leaves me with goose bumps, and surprisingly my kids like it too. Though I’m not much of a dance person, my wife and daughter think it’s one of the best things about the show. As I said before – there’s something for everyone.

If you like a lot of variety in entertainment, or better yet, like me you have kids ranging from tweenager to young adult, this is a great show to see. By the way, Grandma and Grandpa liked it too. Clay Cooper’s Country Express is one of many shows offered at the Clay Cooper Theatre right in the middle of the strip in Branson. Be sure and check their schedule so you don’t miss a great show. If you’re looking for a deal, they have a special where adults get $7.00 off any of the other shows offered at the theatre just by showing their Clay Cooper ticket stubs.