The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Enjoy

April 26, 2013

Live comedy, country music on theater's menu

BRANSON, Mo. — At the beginning of each weekly installment of “Larry’s Country Diner” on RDF-TV, Larry Black is introduced the same way.

“It’s time to chow down at Larry’s Country Diner,” the announcer says. “The coffee is hot and the gossip flows like a river. We are going to have a good time. And now, here’s the Chief Kahuna, the big guy, Larry.”

The same will happen during the live version of “Larry’s Country Diner” this season at Starlite Theater. Rob McCormick is ready for a fun season with the show’s cast of well-seasoned veterans.

“We couldn’t be more excited to have Larry back with the quality of stars that he’s bringing into town,” said McCormick, marketing manager for Starlite. “We’re so excited to have original stars and original songs performed at our theater.”

In its second live season at Starlite, McCormick said interest in the homespun show has exceeded his expectations.

“The reaction has been unbelievable,” McCormick said. “We’re looking at selling out the first four shows, and May is looking really good as well. Larry’s show has become so popular. He’s been on RFD-TV for several years and reaches about a million and a half people a month.”

Regulars, surprises

Hot coffee, country-fried comedy and American music are served up each time the rural diner’s doors open, and the audience is welcomed in for a taste.

“It’s a country diner, and it has a cast of regular characters,” McCormick said of the fictional spot. “Larry is the host and owner, of course. There’s Nadine, the church lady, and Renae, the waitress. The sheriff is Jimmy Caps, who is a real-life guitarist around Nashville.”

McCormick said the live version of “Country Diner” is as funny and star-studded as the televised version. They will perform on the original diner set and feature special guests.

Musical variety and surprise guests are keys to Larry’s success. The first three televised seasons of “Country Diner” are now available on DVD.

“The fun thing about the diner is that you never know who will drop in,” said McCormick. “We have scheduled musical guests such as Joey and Rory, and Gary Morris, and we’ve got some big names for this season that we haven’t released.”

During last season’s run at Starlite, Bill Medley from The Righteous Brothers dropped in and all the Gatlin Brothers came to a show. Several Oak Ridge Boys appeared for a Rhonda Vincent performance, and country legend Mel Tillis came by for a show and served up an impromptu song.

“‘Larry’s Country Diner’ has given us an opportunity to reach out to some of these Nashville legends that, in the past, would never have performed in Branson,” he said. “Con Hunley, T.G. Sheppard, T. Graham Brown. A lot of these guys normally wouldn’t perform in Branson, but because they perform on Larry’s show they see this as a great opportunity to expand that audience. The response has been overwhelming.”

While the cast of musical guest stars is always changing at Larry’s, the diner’s crew of regular cast members keeps the audience laughing. Nadine, the church lady, is one of McCormick and the audience’s favorites.

“Nadine is a cantankerous character,” he said of the nosey busybody. “If you have been to church at any time in your life you will recognize her when you see her.”

McCormick said the live show and all of the ad-lib banter keeps the show fresh.

“There is no scripting,” he said. “You never know what might come out of their mouths. Nadine is a fan favorite.”

Even given the shows freewheeling feel, the comedy and humor is always family friendly.

“There is no blue comedy at all,” he said, laughing. “Nadine wouldn’t tolerate that one bit.”

Want to go?

“Larry’s Country Diner” at Starlite Theatre in Branson, 3115 West Highway 76 on the Strip, runs selected dates throughout the Branson season. Call 417-335-6323 or go to www.StarLiteTheatre.com for show and ticket information.

The televised version of “Larry’s Country Diner” can be found on FamilyNet and a growing number of Nexstar television affiliates. Nexstar operates KSNF and KODE TV stations in the Joplin area.

1
Text Only
Enjoy
  • 071814_whiskeydicks.jpg Stretching out: Whiskey Dick's can do more in a bigger downtown location

    For the Whiskey Dick's owners, it isn't a matter of what's in a name but more of a place where everybody knows your name.

    July 18, 2014 2 Photos

  • 072514_LIVEWIREcar.jpg Livewire's new video debuts on Billboard (w/VIDEO)

    The song is currently on Billboard's Top 40 charts for Texas Music and Texas Regional Radio Report. It is the latest release since the band's first full-length album, "Livin'," which was released in 2012 with Way Out West Records.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Film-Hollywoods Ape M_Cast.jpg Benji Tunnell: Great CGI, solid writing make 'Apes' a near-perfect blockbuster

    A couple of weeks ago, we saw "Transformers 4," a big, computer-driven blockbuster film that was symbolic of all that is wrong with filmmaking today.

    July 18, 2014 2 Photos

  • polyphony.jpg Marta Churchwell: New Mexico marimba group returns for concert Sunday

    They're back. Polyphony Marimba, the Santa Fe, New Mexico, band that wowed the crowd with African music during a Downtown Joplin Third Thursday last summer, received such a response to that performance that they're coming back on Sunday.

    July 18, 2014 2 Photos

  • River Regatta 2013.jpg Dave Woods: Nevada regatta makes for a birthday escape

    In just three weeks, I'll spend my 50th birthday floating down the Colorado River with 35,000 of my closest friends.

    July 18, 2014 1 Photo 1 Slideshow 1 Story

  • 071814_pickin trimmin.jpg New festival focuses on short independent films

    As Jack Truman saw his films play in festivals around the world, one lingering thought persisted: He wished that such festivals existed in his hometown area.

    July 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • 071614 Glory Days_72.jpg Glory Days Music to resume weekly in-store concerts

    The staff at Glory Days Music have been working their business as usual. Musicians demonstrate guitars, drums and other instruments. Music is sold; lessons are taught. But something has been missing.

    July 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • mug_joe-hadsall-112613.jpg Joe Hadsall: All the hidden secrets in "Weird Al's" "Word Crimes" video

    I sincerely believe the "Word Crimes" video will become the most important song in history, and the most mandatory-to-watch video in schools across the country.

    July 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • mug_joe-hadsall-112613.jpg Globe Phone Test: Concept is clever, but transitions tricky with Asus PadFone X

    It's kind of embarrassing to point this out, but "Candy Crush Saga" is one of the best ways to illustrate how well the Asus PadFone X, a smartphone and tablet combo really works.

    Anyone who has more than one device will understand this situation completely: Let's say a player fires up "Candy Crush" on his tablet computer and really digs the game. A lot. So much so that he downloads it to his smartphone.

    Only there's one problem: All the progress made on the tablet is stuck on the tablet. The smartphone has a completely separate path of progress, meaning the player has to play each level twice. This makes progress through the game twice as long. (This problem can be fixed by signing up for the game on Facebook, but no one really wants their Facebook friends to know they spend so much time crushin' candy.)

    The Asus PadFone X is the dream solution to this nightmare of a problem.

    Available exclusively from AT&T, the device is actually two devices. A standalone smartphone can be plugged into a tablet computer, meaning the owner can take his pick of how he wants to play the game, and all the progress he makes is saved on one device's hard drive.

    AT&T loaned us a device that we tested for more than two weeks -- didn't like having to send it back -- and we found a lot of its qualities and quirks.

    July 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • Tantric tours in support of latest studio album

    "37 Channels," the latest album from Hugo Ferreira's band, features a lineup of guests including Hinder's Austin Winkler, Shooter Jennings, 3 Doors Down drummer Greg Upchurch, Uncle Kracker guitarist Kevin McCreery, Saving Abel guitarist Scott Bartlett and Leif Garrettt.

    July 11, 2014