By Dave Woods
The Joplin Globe
BRANSON Mo. —
Jason Hughes gets excited when he talks about his family’s show.
“When we first came to Branson it was just the Hughes brothers,” he said. “Since then, we’ve added our wives and kids to the show. They are so good.”
The Hughes Brothers Show, a Branson staple for more than 17 years, has been reworked and rebranded for the 2012 season.
The newly named “It,” a musical variety show, includes Jason Hughes and his four performing brothers, their five wives, a five-piece band and more than 30 of the siblings’ children.
“’It’ came from us realizing that ‘The Hughes Brothers’ no longer describes our show,” Hughes said. “‘It’ gives us the freedom to do a lot more. When people hear ‘Hughes Brothers’ they might have a narrow view of what we do. ‘It’ leaves it up to the imagination. The show has so many different facets to it. We don’t want to pigeon-hole ‘It.’”
The show opens with pop favorites, a ’50s medley, some classical guitar, a lot of dancing and a little comic relief. The second half of the show brings a little Broadway to the Branson stage.
The brothers’ wives, Hughes said, play a big part in the show and are on-stage naturals.
“Our wives are so much faster than we are when it comes to dance steps and learning songs and remembering lyrics,” Hughes said. “The brothers have always sung well and we are all musicians. We pick up on musical parts quickly, but remembering the dance steps? They are just so much faster.”
With the wide variety of musical styles the Hughes family offers during “It” comes the need for a wide of variety of dance styles.
“The dancing is different in ‘It,’” Hughes said. “In the first half we a do a lot of popular stuff and in the second half a lot of Broadway, which lends itself to dancing.”
In past incarnations of The Hughes Brothers’ show, the brothers dominated the stage. Now, the Hughes wives and children take part in the show’s big song and dance production numbers.
“Sometimes we will have 18 to 20 people in a production number,” Hughes said. “There are not too many shows in Branson that have that kind of cast, with that many people to pull from.”
There are 20 more siblings and children waiting in the wings.
Hughes said it is sometimes a challenge coordinating show rehearsals with so many young performers in the cast.
“It’s completely nuts,” he said, laughing. “When we have a rehearsal it’s mayhem.”
The mayhem is worth it, he said, because there is so much talent with which to work.
“I’m amazed all of the time at their talent,” he said of the Hughes children. “We’ve got a whole army of children that are really impressive when it comes to their talent for their age. My son Aaron has been blowing us all away with his incredible voice and he’s awesome on the violin.”
Kristina Hughes, brother Marty’s daughter, writes songs and plays violin. Dallin Hughes, Marty’s son, focuses on hip-hop, tap dancing and acrobatics. He plays violin, too.
“He’s pretty incredible with all of that stuff,” Jason Hughes said of his nephew. “The list just goes on and on.”
The Hughes Brothers have come a long way from playing the state fair circuit to their own theater on the Branson strip. It’s been a 30-year journey.
“It is so much fun,” Hughes said of performing with his extended family. “It’s not only fun, it’s rewarding. To be able to be with your brothers, and to have your wife there and having seen the children progress, it just makes you proud.
“To be in a place where you can entertain the way that we do and have a family and know you don’t have to comprise any of your standards your values.”