BRANSON, Mo. — Jim Stafford opened the spring season of his “Rockin' Comedy Show” showing off his prowess on guitar, banjo and harmonica, singing his humorous numbers like “Cow Patti” and roping the audience into his shenanigans.
His show might be the main attraction at the Jim Stafford Theatre, but the longtime Branson entertainer/proprietor happily shares the stage these days with a couple of up-and-comers: The proud father set down his banjo to clap along as his son, Shea, 20, fiddled away on the classic “Orange Blossom Special” and later let his daughter G.G., 16, and her piano have the spotlight on the boogie-woogie rocker “Rocket 88.”
“I'm similar to a lot of shows in that it's a family show and the family's doing the show. I think that my show is unique in Branson; I don't think there's any show that's anywhere like it at all. I enjoy all the shows ... but all I can say is this: You don't get to stay in a place as competitive as this with over 120 shows if you're not doing something right. And so I fall back on that when I get confused,” he said with a laugh after the performance.
While Stafford, 69, is marking his 24th year in his Branson theater, the self-proclaimed “live music capital of the world” has plenty of shows, new and old, performed for families, often by families:
“Acrobats of China,” New Shanghai Theatre: More than 40 acrobats pull off feats of strength, grace and flexibility that will wow patrons of all ages.
“SIX,” Mickey Gilley Theatre: The six Knudsen brothers take a cappella music to a whole new level, singing in familial harmony, beatboxing and creating all manner of sound effects with no instruments other than their mouths.
“The Haygoods,” RFD-TV The Theatre: This dynamic musical family — five brothers and one sister — also specializes in tight harmony singing, but they play more than 20 instruments, many adorned with LED lights.
“Amazing Pets,” Grand Country Music Hall: It may not do much for adults or teens, but for my 21/2-year-old daughter, it doesn't get much better than a little dog in a Batman costume, unless it's a boxful of house cats that can run a complicated obstacle course.
“The Price Is Right Live!,” Welk Resort Branson: Fans of the long-running game show can compete for fabulous prizes, including a new car. Starting in May, Jerry Springer takes over as the live show's new host.
“It,” The Hughes Brothers Theatre: Billed as the “World's Largest Performing Family,” the five Hughes brothers, their wives and their many, many children make up the cast of more than 50 — and growing — who perform this hodgepodge of song-and-dance numbers.
“Todd Oliver & Friends,” The New Americana Theatre: The “America's Got Talent” contender uses his ventriloquism skills to make his dogs Irving and Lucy crack wise, plus he plays guitar and sings original rock music with his band, The Smiling Eyes.