Feature Destination: Branson, MissouriMark Ferrell
Hop on the coach with Beth Bowman, Music Director of Lincoln Middle School / High School Choirs, for a fun ride and performance tour to Branson, Missouri, that “other” great music city and one of this month’s Feature Destination.
Boarding a deluxe motor coach in northeast Indiana when school let out seemed like a good way to unwind after 4/5 of a week in the classroom. Arriving in Branson late in the evening, we happily checked into our conveniently located Branson hotel for a good night’s rest, sights set on the fun awaiting us tomorrow.
Friday, following a good breakfast, we drove to Silver Dollar City. Our great high school band, under the direction of Daniel Jackson, started the day off right with a 20 minute showcase of music during Silver Dollar City’s opening ceremonies, to the delight of guests from around the country.
Next, we got into serious fun! This turn-of-the-(19th)-century themed theme park takes you back to the 1880’s for a visit to another era. We met authentic craftsmen, shopped in cute boutiques, viewed spirited shows and thrilled to several (21st century) rides, disguised as wooden roller-coasters, runaway mine cars and a splash ride down treacherous, white-water rapids. There’s even a cool (literally) underground cavern to visit. And the food was dee-licious!
The afternoon literally flew by and then it was time for our next encounter, a spectacular, non-violent, immensely entertaining friendly competition between North and South at crowd-pleasing Dixie Stampede. Thrilling horse riding stunts, spectacular special effects and great music, plus a delicious five course meal, made for a high energy, memorable evening (yes, our side won!). And all this was just one day!
Saturday began in a hurry, right after breakfast, as we boarded the Ducks for a tour of Branson over the hills and on beautiful Table Rock Lake, which borders Branson. Armed with our ‘quackers,’ we had a ball as our guide expertly drove and sailed our safe, vintage World War II amphibious vehicle on an informative ride.
Back on dry land, we grabbed a tasty Chick-fil-a lunch and got ready for our next adventure, a recording session at Branson’s most technologically advanced showroom. Our band and our choir worked with a talented team of music engineers to create a professional CD at the Mansion Theatre. Week in and week out, this facility hosts famous acts and showcases thrilling and amazing performers. One of the most advanced professional theaters in town, it boasts state-of-the-art sound and lighting, giving our students a truly professional theatre experience. Best of all, the CD turned out great!
Next, Lincoln High School’s band and choir got to ‘sail’ on the “M.S. Titanic!” As passengers on the great liner’s tragic 1912 maiden voyage, students and adults experienced the ship’s abrupt demise by viewing period exhibits and artifacts, all of which backed up Titanic’s claim to be The World’s Largest Museum Attraction.
Once the choir dried off, it went back to work in a long, afternoon Rehearsal/Workshop led by talented Jason Hughes, director and star of “It”, the hit Branson show. “It” cast members worked with our LHS choir students to put the finishing touches on the choir’s Branson debut, scheduled for Saturday evening. After a great session with Jason, the choir chowed-down on a boxed supper, prior to dressing for its evening show. During the choir’s rehearsal, the band ran over to Pasghetti’s Italian Restaurant for a delicious dinner only an Italian mother could make! Then it was back to the Hughes Brothers Theatre to get seats and watch the choir perform!
The LHS Choir did itself and Lincoln High School proud with a spectacular pre-show performance that warmed-up the audience for the headliners, The Hughes Brothers! The world’s largest performing family is one of the great success stories in American music, and the 50+ performers electrified the audience with incredible harmonies, entertaining antics, dynamic dance, soaring instrumental solos and a healthy dose of Brotherly Love! It was a beautiful way to cap the LHS visit to Branson, and “It” made a lasting memory for the students, parents and teachers. After an informative post-show Q & A session with some of the “It” cast, we boarded the motor coach for the ride home to Indiana.
“Music Travel Consultants has provided us quality trips and wonderful experiences for many years. This Branson trip stands apart because of the fantastic performance opportunities. Adding the choir and band recording sessions after the original proposal had been accepted was difficult to do, I am sure, but it was greatly appreciated. Staying after The Hughes Brothers concert for the Q and A session was the perfect closure after the choir’s rehearsal and “IT” pre-show performance. Every trip seems to top the previous one!
Thank you, Ashley, for all your help, flexibility and patience. And a special thank you to Mark Ferrell for your long hours of planning, answering many questions, and, most of all, your constant work (even during the trip) in creating the best use of our time so we could pack as many activities as possible into each day. Our students will remember this trip forever…I know I will! Thank you so much!”
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