The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Best of Branson

July 6, 2012

Former American Idols enjoying summer showcase in Branson

Finalists site faith, friends for show’s success

BRANSON Mo. — Scott Savol and Alexis Grace are enjoying their summer performing in Branson.

They both like their fellow Finalists Live cast members and love sharing their talents with audiences at The Moon River Theatre.

“We have a blast,” said Savol, an American Idol season four finalists. “Everything you see on-stage is what happens back stage, too. We kid around and have fun and hang out with each other outside of the show.”

Unlike American Idol, the show on which both entertainers landed their big break, their performances at Andy Williams’ theater are not a competition.

“Were just having fun and sharing our gifts with the crowd,” he explained. “There’s no pressure. We just go out and do what we do every night.”

Grace, who shares the stage with Savol and three other former Idol finalists, performed in season eight and respects her fellow cast members and the talents they bring to the summer showcase.

“It’s a fun show and everybody can sing their butts off,” she bragged. “There are times when everybody is singing in harmony and it sounds beautiful. We have our own sets and everybody is so different with so many genres of music represented.”

Variety, she said, is the key to The Finalists Live Branson success.

“Ace (Young) and Diana (DeGarmo) rock it out,” she explained. “Shiobhan (Magnus) is one of the most interesting people you will even see on-stage with her costumes and songs. Scott’s going to make you want to kiss your significant other, and me, I just want to make you smile. I want you to clap and have fun.”

Favorite moments

Savol and Grace, DeGarmo, Young and Magnus, all former American Idol contestants, will entertain audiences at Andy Williams Moon River Theatre during five shows each week through July 21. A new group of Idol finalists take the stage July 23.

Savol and Grace bring very different personalities and priorities to Moon River. Savol honors his Christian faith on-stage.  

“I know that God gave my gift,” he said. “I wake up every morning just thanking Him for letting me have this opportunity. I fulfill his purpose in my life. I wouldn’t feel right if I didn’t mention him when I talk about what I’m doing. I’m not the kind of person who’s going to throw God into something to make it sound better. That’s how I live. ”

Savol acknowledges his Motown roots and his fathers influence on his musical direction throughout his set.

“I grew up listening to Motown,” he said. “I can remember my father having The Four Tops and The Temptations and Marvin Gaye and listening to it on an old stereo. I grew up on that stuff and I appreciate good music. That’s why I still go back to it.”

Savol said his own favorite moment is when be sings “Take a look at me know,” a Phil Collins hit from 1984. He sang the song during his Idol run and thinks divine intervention played a part in his song choice that week. It paid off and he made it into the Top 10.

Savol’s Idol fans nicknamed his “The White Velvet teddy Bear” due to his smooth vocals and Motown flare.

Grace said her favorite moment on-stage is when shares “Fever,” the 1956 Peggy Lee Top 10 hit, with the audience.

“Who doesn’t like Peggy Lee,” Grace said. “She’s sexy and amazing. I love that because I grew up wanting to be that sultry, sexy singer. It’s just so much fun. It’s something I love to do. I think it’s an amazing thing for a woman to embrace her sensuality and have confidence. It’s important for woman to do that.”

Meeting other former Idol contestants and performing during the monthlong Branson run has been a once in a lifetime experience, she said. It reminds her Idol’s Hollywood week. Only without all of the pressure.

“It’s so refreshing to look back at it,” she said. “When you look back (at Idol) and think about all of the people you met. I met Chris Allen and Adam Lambert and Kelly Clarkson. They are all so successful. You have big dreams that you will be that successful. Now, I get to do shows in Vegas and Branson and I have my own career back in Memphis. It’s such a great and wonderful thing.”

Grace praised her fellow cast members and said she will always treasure their friendships.

“We really lucked out,” she said. “It’s magic. Shiobhan is the sweetest soul in the whole world. Scott is an amazing person and funny. Ace and Diana are the best friends that you grew up with. We all grew close here in just a couple of weeks.”



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