The Rat Pack: Direct from Las Vegas at the Branson Variety Theater was a hit. By the time the Frank Sinatra impersonator broke into "What Kind of Fool Am I, " Grandma was done lip-synching. She was actually singing. She was not the only one. The Frank, Deano and Sammy look- and sound-alikes drew oohs and aahs when they first ambled across the stage. Backup singers in sequined gowns, a 22-piece band and ’60s Vegas-style lighting completed the scene. Big laughs for jokes about Geritol and arthritis confirmed I was not the target audience, but that's OK. It was fun. I recognized most of the songs, too. Many have been commercial jingles.
During intermission, Grandma leaned toward the people on her left, saying, "My granddaughter brought me here. " The father asked Grandma if she was having fun. "I should say! " she confirmed. He said he was from Illinois and on his annual family trip here, then gave us his Branson Big Three: Mickey Gilley (there are usually a decent amount of big-name country stars here), a trip on the Showboat Branson Belle and Shoji. Definitely Shoji.
People were always giving input on shows we should see, which makes sense. A whopping 87 percent of visitors see at least one of the 100-plus offered. With all the repeat business, odds are good you’re sitting next to a veteran of the Branson show scene. There was one consistency in recommendations. All insisted we see Shoji Tabuchi. I figured he was either undeniably incredible or had amazing hypnotic powers. Either way, the show’s popularity seemed to hint at a high probability for common ground.
But where were the attractions for me? The shows so far were fine, but not really my thing. Among those the chamber of commerce was promoting for younger visitors were Cirque and Darren Romeo: The Voice of Magic, but the timing didn't work on the first, and Darren.s Fabio-like billboards freaked me out.