By Dave Woods
The Joplin Globe
BRANSON Mo. —
Carolyn Emmert can’t get enough of Grand Jubilee.
“I love the show,” the 66-year-old Minnesota native said following a performance of the longtime Branson musical variety show. “I like all of the shows at Grand Country. I love New South and I love Wayne (Massengale) the fiddler. We come all the time.”
Bob Emmert, 64, Carolyn’s husband, said he likes the show’s lights, costumes and pace.
“I like the variety and the staging impresses me,” he said. ”It’s a fast moving show. They change it up all the time so there is always something new to see. The show is absolutely exciting, but we say that about all of their shows.”
The Emmerts are not alone. Six days a week thousands of music and comedy fans pack the Grand Country Music Hall, 1945 West Highway 76, to catch Grand Jubilee or one of the other comedy, gospel or mountain music shows the complex offers.
Grand Jubilee features New South, Grand Country’s house quartet, musical host Mike Patrick and the comic relief of Jamie Haage as Jim Dandy. A cadre of veteran vocalists and band members fill out the show casts.
Patrick and Haage lace the two-hour show together with family friendly comedy, quick banter and audience interaction. The pair even tosses in few musical numbers of their own.
During Patrick’s time as general manager of the Music Hall at Grand Country, he’s built a loyal following. The crew at the theater consider many of their regular guests, dubbed “The Wild Bunch,” their extended family.
“It’s a family atmosphere, not only for the guests, but for the employees,” Patrick said. “I pinch myself every day. Is this really a job? When you come in to work at night, the co-workers and employees are your friends. It’s a perfect situation.”
Families in mind
Patrick said Grand Jubilee is a lot of fun for the cast. He thinks audiences can tell the cast has a good time onstage.
“We make a living doing what we love and I think that reads on the stage,” Patrick said. “We do songs that people like to hear and a large variety that appeals to every age group.”
Creating a show with something for everyone is a fun challenge, Patrick said. The current production includes country classics, gospel standards, a ’50s rock ’n’ roll medley, some Motown and pop favorites.
“I’ve been this business a long time,” Patrick said. “Twenty years ago we were doing songs from the ’40s. That age group isn’t in our audience any more. People love the ’50s and ’60s and ’70s music. Even when you pop out a ’90s song, we see people from 10 to 80 going nuts.”
Patrick’s team designed Comedy Jamboree, Grand Country’s afternoon show, with families in mind.
“We try to appeal to younger folks with that show,” he said. “The comedy is a lot of silly stuff. We say, ‘Hey, play along with us. There’s going to be some corn. We know it’s corn, but have fun with us.’”
The audience interaction during Jamboree is a big attraction for families.
“We pull a lot of folks on stage and let them be a part of the show,” Patrick explained. ”It’s fun to se the kids’ reaction when they see their mom onstage, or the parents when they see their kids onstage.”
Make a splash
Splash Country, Grand Country’s Ozarks themed indoor water park, is open year-round and was designed to appeal to all ages. It features jumping water, bungee swings and an Ozark trout slide.
A 250-foot lazy river meanders throughout the 20,000-square-foot park, which includes water slides, wading pools and a place for parents to relax while the children swim and play.
Splash Country, Patrick said, is a full-service water park that maintains an 82-degree temperature, even on the coldest winter day.
“I think the fun spot amusement center is awesome for families,” Patrick said. “We have arcade games. There’s a brand new laser tag attraction that people are going nuts over. We really try to appeal to families with the water park and with the family amusement center. You can pull into the parking lot and never leave.”