It’s Ozark Mountain Christmas in Branson, Missouri. With its millions of bright Christmas lights, world class shopping, wonderful live shows, and everything else Branson is known for, its one of America’s most noted Christmas celebrations. Even amid the glow of millions of Christmas lights, the brightness of Branson’s live shows sparkle with the joy, excitement, and wonder of Christmas as they entertain you and your loved ones filling your hearts with that special Branson Christmas spirit.
One of Branson’s most iconic Christmas shows, the Shoji Tabuchi Christmas show, returns to the Branson stage for a limited engagement at the Clay Cooper Theatre on selected dates, through December 21.The show, Celebrate 25 Days of Christmas With the Tabuchis, marks the return to the stage of the incredible Shoji Tabuchi after a year and a half absence because of fire that damage to his theatre in the spring of 2017.
I saw the show on October 29 and just loved it. From a prospective conflict of interest point of view, I would point out that I am a long time Shoji Tabuchi fan and am proud to call him my friend. In my review of the show I said, “From Santa Claus arriving in the very first number to the closing, with the ‘reason for the season, this show is all about Christmas. Oh there’s a few special Christmas gifts strategically placed throughout, audience favorites, such as Through the Eyes of Love, Pure Imagination, and the Orange Blossom Special, but from beginning to the end, this show is a delightful celebration of the joys, spirit, and wonders of Christmas.
“In addition to the incredible Shoji Tabuchi, the show features the talented Christina Lingo-Tabuchi as the featured female vocalist. She is also the co-dance captain and co-producer of the show. The show’s versatile entertainers, dance, sing, and, unless my guess is wrong, ‘magically’ appear as reindeer and penguins. They are Kami Ballard, Norvin Breeck (Co-Dance Captain), Jeremy Sterling, and Sharlyn Todd.
“The live band adds another enjoyable dimension to the show. It consists of Dougie Duggan, Guitar (Band Director), Carl Hose, Trombone, Dan McMasters, Bass, Collin Rozario, Keyboard, and Anthony Walter, Drums. They play in just about every number and featured in many.”
The very first number Here Comes Santa Claus, featuring Shoji Tabuchi, sets the Christmas tenor of the show. “What better time to have Santa Claus himself arrive and, to the delight of the audience, especially the kids, come down into the audience and wish them a ‘Merry Christmas.’
“Speaking of kids, they should love this show! There’s the music of Christmas, which most will relate to, and colorful unique costuming throughout. Starting with the arrival of Santa Claus there are strategically placed numbers and things that will excite and entertain them, such as the march of the drumming toy soldiers, dancing penguins, the Hawaiian reindeer in Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, and an opportunity for them to come up on stage, interact with Christina Tabuchi.
“The set list for this show covers the full range of Christmas music that celebrates both the fun and excitement of Christmas as well as the “reason for the season.” The fun music of Christmas includes music such as Here Comes Santa Claus, Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer, Frosty The Snowman, Jingle Bells, Reindeer Boogie and others. The inspirational music of Christmas includes, among others, Oh Come All Ye Faithful, Oh Little Town of Bethlehem, and Oh Holy Night.”
There is a mixture of both kinds of music throughout the show, but it’s interesting to note that both the first and second half of the show end with versions of Joy to the World. “The first half with Shoji and the band playing a unique instrumental arrangement incorporating three variations of music, Latin, Pop, and Rock and the second with the whole cast singing it along with the audience. What an inspirational way to end both halves of the show with the ‘real reason’ for the season.
“Fully recognizing that your favorites might be different than mine, and from among many, I typically pick two numbers from each show that are my favorites. Shoji and the bands instrumental version of Joy to the World, with its different beats and Christina’s rendition of “Oh Holy Night” were as inspiring as they were entertaining. OK, I’ve got to mention two more. The mandolin and violin duet with Shoji and Sharlyn Todd of Christmas Time’s A Comin’ provided a fun change of pace and a bit of bluegrass that I particularly enjoyed. Shoji’s favorite song is Through the Eyes of Love, from the movie ‘Ice Castles.’ I have had the privilege of hearing him play it for over 30 years, it’s my favorite Shoji number, and it always touches my heart. This time was no exception.”
This show will hold the interest of both adults and kids throughout and is a delightful Christmas experience that families can share together. For more information or tickets for Celebrate 25 Days of Christmas With the Tabuchis please call 417-332-CLAY (2529) or (417) 334-7469.