Note: This article is archived from 2009. For a current list of shows visit our Branson show list. Every now and then an entertainment opportunity comes along that is special. Brule’ is one of those opportunities. It is an exciting experience in music, sight, and history conveying the spirit of our country’s Native American culture through a beautiful moving and touching combination of music, dance and narration as Native American music joins America’s musical mainstream.
Except for one piece of traditional Native American music, all the music in Brule’ & AIRO (American Indian Rock Opera) is written by Paul LaRoche who also does most of the shows narration. LaRoche was adopted off the Brule Sioux reservation when he was an infant and, until his mid thirties, knew nothing of his Native American heritage believing he was French Canadian.
During that time he was a musician, married and had a family. It was only after his adoptive parents died that he discovered his Native American heritage. He went home to the reservation and reunited with his “family” on Thanksgiving Day 1993. The discovery of his heritage drastically altered his life and since then he has used his musical talents for humanitarian causes and to help integrate the proud heritage of Native American music with mainstream music.
What makes this show so special is that the music, though original, has a comfortable spirit to it that moves ones heart and mind. It and the Native American Dancing and “regalia,” (Native American dress) is masterfully choreographed giving the show a distinctive musical sound resulting in one of the most entertaining, educational, and moving shows in Branson.
The Native American band Brule’ and AIRO is composed of LaRoche on Keyboards, Shane LaRoche playing a variety of guitars, Moses Brings Plenty and Lowery Begay on the Traditional Native American Drums, Kurt Olson playing non Native American drum’s the Drum Kit and Nicole LaRoche, playing the Flute. Both Shane and Nicole are the children of LaRoche and his wife Kathy who is also the group’s manager.
To say the sound this group makes is unique would be an understatement. The original musical score with the hauntingly beautiful and spiritual Native American music as its base, the sound of the Traditional Native American drums and “wooden” flute artfully blended into the key board, drums, and guitars is a memorable entertainment experience that will not soon be forgotten.
They are all excellent musicians but it is the flutist, Nicole LaRoche, who gives Brule’ that unique musical sound, special energy, and upfront “musical personality” that helps makes the show so special. The really interesting thing is that she does it with virtually no personal audience interaction except for her playing. Although classically trained and a past member of the Minneapolis Youth Symphony the sound coming from her flute these days is anything but classical.
Nicole plays a regular steel flute in the show, but the sound coming out of that flute sounds like the wooden flute that male Native Americans used for courtship. In honor of the tradition of only male Native Americans playing the wooden flute, she has developed a unique technique of getting the sound of the Native American wood flute on a steel flute. It is an amazing thing to hear and experience.
As wonderful and unique as the music is, a large part of the enjoyment of the show and sharing the group’s Native American culture relates to the integration of Native American dancing into the show. Each dance is explained within LaRoche’s narrative becoming a seamless and meaningful part of the show.
The cast’s dancers are Lowery Begay, Lewis St Cyr, Petur Redbird, Kele Crisp, Nikki Crisp, Chris Estes, Linda Thompson and Thirza Defoe. Two dance highlights would be the hoop dancing done by Thirza Defoe and the “Honor Dance” including the “Wounded Warrior” and “Eagle Dance” which was beautifully done.
This show is easily the most unique show in Branson with a musicianship, choreography, dancing, native “regalia,” message, and spirit that rivals the best Branson has to offer. Brule’ is playing at the RFD Theatre through July 19 and will come back with a Christmas show during the first two weeks of November.