Broadway In Branson: Mansion Theatre hosts new fall series

Broadway In Branson: Mansion Theatre hosts new fall series
BECCA MARTIN-BROWN
bmartin@nwadg.com

In the 1990s, when Wayne Newton — sometimes called “Mr. Las Vegas” — built a 3,000-seat theater perched above Shepherd of the Hills Expressway, audiences expected world-class music and big-city style. And they got exactly what they bargained for — performers like Michael Bolton, Kenny Loggins, The Oak Ridge Boys, Dennis Quaid, Kenny G, Johnny Mathis, Rhonda Vincent, Tony Orlando, Nelly and many more, on stage in an elegant space with a vast entryway and a grand staircase.

In January of 1999, Michael Cavanaugh received an offer that would unknowingly change his life: an opportunity to play Las Vegas at the famed New York, New York Hotel and Casino. It was there that Billy Joel spotted Cavanaugh and joined him on stage one fateful night of February 2001. It only took two songs before Joel was convinced that he had found his new “Piano Man.” (Courtesy Photo/Mansion Theatre)

This fall, audiences will get something else, something they might not have expected where country music has long been king. Now renamed the “Mansion Theatre for the Performing Arts,” the venue will host its own Branson version of Broadway, opening Oct. 22 with “The Music of Billy Joel” starring Michael Cavanaugh.

Straight from London, “The Simon and Garfunkel Story” follows Nov. 26-27, with the premiere of a new Disney production, “Disney Princess: The Concert” Dec. 1-2.

“The Mansion will continue to host our classic legendary artists that the community and visitors have become accustomed to,” says Kristy Adams, assistant general manager of the Mansion. “The addition of the Broadway Series is meant to enhance what we already offer. Our goal is to have something for everyone, and I think we have made a huge step toward that in 2021.” Asked if there will be another announcement for the early months of 2022, Adams says, “if the right show or performance comes along for the January-March time frame, we would certainly entertain the idea. We aren’t married to the traditional Branson business model.”

The theater was part of a trend toward “bigger is better” in Branson in the 1990s, making it perfect for Broadway-style shows.

“The historic theater was originally built for Wayne Newton,” Adams repeats, “which explains its grandness and elegance. It has always been a showplace for the region and over the years home to so many fantastic productions and entertainers. We believe this initial [Broadway] lineup reaches out to a wide demographic with award-winning productions never seen in this region.”

‘The Music of Billy Joel’

Oct. 22

Michael Cavanaugh, who started playing the piano at the age of 7, made a name for himself in the Broadway musical “Movin’ Out.” Handpicked by Billy Joel for the production, Cavanaugh appeared in the show for more than 1,200 performances and received multiple accolades, culminating in 2003 with both Grammy and Tony award nominations.

“The Simon and Garfunkel Story” will take the stage of the Mansion Theatre For the Performing Arts in Branson for an exclusive engagement Nov. 26-27. (Courtesy Photo/Mansion Theatre)

“Like Joel, Cavanaugh is a skilled pianist and talented vocalist,” wrote Gil Benbrook in a review of a performance with the Phoenix Symphony in 2019. “He clearly loves performing these songs and that enthusiasm came through clearly.”

‘The Simon and Garfunkel Story’

Nov. 26-27

“The immersive concert theatrical production chronicles the amazing journey shared by the folk-rock duo, Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel,” Adams says. “It tells the story from their humble beginnings to their incredible success as one of the best-selling music groups of the ’60s to their dramatic split in the ’70s. It culminates with the famous ‘Concert In Central Park’ reunion in 1981 with more than 500,000 in attendance. Using state-of-the-art video projection, photos and original film footage, the show also features a live band performing all of their hits.”

‘Disney Princess: The Concert’

Dec. 1-2

“It has been our desire to develop a special relationship with Disney, and we are honored to be the exclusive regional venue for ‘Disney Princess: The Concert,’” says Adams. “The historic concert event will feature an array of guest musical royalty, including the original Belle from the Disney Broadway classic ‘Beauty and The Beast,’ Susan Egan; Broadway star Laura Osnes (Cinderella); Courtney Reed (the original Jasmine from Disney’s ‘Aladdin’); and Syndee Winters from ‘The Lion King.’

“It has been the desire of the ownership for some time to redefine the theater as a true performing arts theater featuring national and international productions and cultural experiences,” Adams says. “Now that dream is being realized. The Mansion Theatre has so much to offer.”

Iconic Disney princesses Syndee Winters, Courtney Reed, Laura Osnes and Susan Egan come to Branson’s Mansion Theatre for “Disney Princess: The Concert.” (Courtesy Photo/Mansion Theatre)

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FAQ

The Mansion Theatre for the Performing Arts:

Broadway Series

WHEN — Oct. 22; Nov. 26-27; and Dec. 1-2

WHERE — 189 Expressway Lane in Branson

COST — $40-$65 for “The Music of Billy Joel” & “The Simon and Garfunkel Story”; $45-$230 for “Disney Princess: The Concert”

INFO — 417-385-1118, themansiontheatre.com

Categories: Theater