The spectacular Smoky Mountain Opry in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee

IMG_4164To most the name “Opry” brings to mind a great show that is primarily of the country-western music genre. The Smoky Mountain Opry at Pigeon Forge, Tennessee will change your expectations. You will be amazed at the quality of the performances offered.

Not only are the performers top notch but the staging, lighting and costumes are superb. The opening act features flying western guitar players. Yes, this is your introduction to several aerial acts during the show. The highlight of the show is of course the music. The house band is absolutely marvelous.

Be prepared for numbers from nearly every genre. Motown, Broadway musicals, country, sixties rock, gospel and a patriotic tribute will keep you enthralled. Featured numbers from artists like The Eagles, Marti Robbins, Charlie Daniels and Carrie Underwood are highlights of this professional show. The 1400 seat facility uses sophistocated lighting, sound, lasers, video screens and pyrotechnical effects.

The opening number

The opening number

Charlie Bob Smith

Charlie Bob Smith

Sher and I were surprised that this show would even attempt doing the number “Circle of Life”. Wow. This was one of the most amazing acts of the night. The costumes were unbelievable and included tall life sized giraffes. What an exciting number. There were even two live tigers on each side of the stage

The memories returned for this boomer during a number that brought back the days of the Beatles. The band and cast were dressed in the style of the times and band director John Hodges and his band were right out of Sgt Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band. “Hey Jude” echoed through the auditorium as dancers, singers and band members spread out in the aisles. Beach balls were bouncing throughout the crowd and all enjoyed this time travel back to the days of love, love, love.

Vocalist Anthony Bailey

Vocalist Anthony Bailey

Patriotic Finale

Patriotic Finale

Every show needs some comedy. The Smoky Moutain Opry fills the bill with comedian/juggler David J Hirschi (stage name Slim Chance). He juggles saw blades. He juggles a ping pong ball, rubber chicken and a bowling ball. He is hilarious.

Like Broadway musicals? “I’m singing in the Rain” was performed complete with real rainfall and dancing ala Gene Kelly. Nat King Cole’s iconic “Unforgettable” is presented as a marvelous tribute to the ground breaking entertainer.

Charlie Bob Smith is new to the show this season and performs several numbers. He is known as the man of a thousand voices as he sings in the style of many different famous singers. He nails them.

A special treat during this show is the remarkable performances by Leann Farley and Semyon Gruzdev. These aerialists have developed breathtaking routines performed above the stage. In addition they have a quick change act that approaches the feel of magic. How they change into so many different costumes on stage behind a curtain is mind blowing.

The Smoky Mountain Opry presents a world class, professional variety show. The beautiful facility is located right on the strip in Pigeon Forge. Without a doubt any visit to Pigeon Forge should include attending the Smoky Mountain Opry. Here is their website with all the details.

Semyon Gruzdev and Leann Farley (Aerialists/Quick Change Artists) Photo by Steven Bridges http://stevenbridges.com

Semyon Gruzdev and Leann Farley (Aerialists/Quick Change Artists) Photo by Steven Bridges http://stevenbridges.com

 

The Hatfield and McCoy Dinner Feud in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee

Hillbilly wheels

Hillbilly wheels

You know that there will be some great family friendly comedy as part of the Hatfield and McCoy Dinner Feud. What you may not expect is that fact that you’ll start grinning and chuckling as soon as you leave your car and approach the building. The outside of the facility is covered with good humor in the form of signs, artifacts on the walls and even a real two hole outhouse! Around the front are a couple of barnyards filled with critters to see and several interesting vehicles.

The seating in the facility is very comfotable. Sher and I had our own table as did all the other couples. Large tables are available for families of four or more and groups. One side of the theater is tagged as the Hatfield side. The other, where we were seated, is of course the McCoy side. Good natured cheering is encouraged throughout the evening for your side.

Sher in the two hole outhouse

Sher in the two hole outhouse

Comfortable dining

Comfortable dining

Let’s talk about the meal. As soon as you are seated your server brings your drink of choice followed by soup and rolls. The meal is served family style and includes fried chicken, pulled pork, corn on the cob, cole slaw and mashed taters. The food is excellent and you can have seconds or more if you want. The service is fast and efficient. A nice dessert is included with your meal. Beer and “moonshine” is also available at extra cost.

Playing "Foggy Mountain Breakdown"

Playing “Foggy Mountain Breakdown”

She has a great voice

She has a great voice

The show starts with the groundwork of the Hatfield-McCoy feud described as both sides of the crowd start to hoop it up! The show is made up of a series of great bluegrass music numbers, hilarious banter between the two families and some absolutely fabulous dance numbers. Amongst the dancers are a young man and even younger girl. Both of these kids have great careers ahead. Watch for these talented youngsters.

Granny McCoy and Elder Hatfield

Granny McCoy and Elder Hatfield

One of the great clogging numbers

One of the great clogging numbers

There are some great sight gags and fun slap stick comedy during the show. The excitement and professionalism of the cast is noticeable in each segment of the show. Granny is head of the McCoys and of course the elder Hatfield runs his clan with an iron fist. However both end up getting together and all ends well.

The patiotic ending of the show will have you on your feet. The newly remodeled Hatfield and McCoy Dinner Theater is a marvelous venue for this rousing and entertaining show. It is hard to beat good food and a great show. Put this one on your list when you visit the Great Smoky Mountains and Pigeon Forge, Tennessee.

Get all the information you need for tickets and times at the show website here.

Have to love a 5 string

Have to love a 5 string

 

Red Skelton Tribute Show in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee

My time with Brian before the show

My time with Brian before the show

Every once in a while you come across an entertainment opportunity that really tugs at your heart. Sher and I attended such a show at Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. The Red Skelton Tribute show is the work of Brian Hoffman. He presents Red Skelton just as he was during the heyday of Skelton’s TV shows on CBS so many years ago.

Hoffman had a ten year run in Las Vegas but moved to Pigeon Forge a couple of years ago. I was able to talk with Brian before the show, and I asked him what prompted the move to Tennessee. He responded simply: “Divine intervention.” This set the stage for my learning about Brian and his calm and gentle demeanor. He explained that he loves putting on shows that are funny and filled with clean and clever comedy just as Red Skelton always performed.

He thoroughly loves presenting Red Skelton not only as a trip down memory lane for us baby boomers, but also as an education for the younger generation who have never heard of Red Skelton. Brian chuckled when he said that the younger generation includes youngsters including those in their late thirties!

An ad you won't see today

An ad you won’t see today

Gertrude and Heathcliff

Gertrude and Heathcliff

The entertainment begins with a 30 minute pre-show presentation in slide show format. Accompanied by vintage songs from the 50’s and 60’s you are treated to a montage of pictures from days gone by. All your old favorite autos are pictured. There is a series of photos of movie stars from those days. Ed Wynn, Humphrey Bogart, The Marx Brothers, Audrey Hepburn and Hopalong Cassidy are but a few of those dispayed. Old toys, cereals, games and even ads are shown, all getting you ready for the show.

Brian Hoffman as Red Skelton

Brian Hoffman as Red Skelton

Clem Kadiddlehopper

Clem Kadiddlehopper

Brian starts his performance as Red Skelton doing standup. It is remarkable how much he looks, acts and sounds like Skelton. His unobtrusive interaction with the crowd in the intimate Starlight Theater is a big part of the show. Everyone feels at ease and at home during the patter. You will have a huge grin on your face between those outbursts of the laughter that keeps on coming.

During the show you will be treated to several of the many characters that Skelton made famous during his career. Hoffman nails each one of them perfectly. Remember the pair of seagulls named Gertrude and Heathcliff? They apperar often during the show. You will appreciate Clem Kadiddlehopper in his coat of many colors. The act is vibrant and energetic as Hoffman switches back and forth from routine to routine.

Becoming Freddie the Freeloader

Becoming Freddie the Freeloader

Freddie the Freeloader

Freddie the Freeloader

Hoffamn changes into the Freddie the Freeloader character is a very unique way. He sits with his back to the audience and delivers a beautiful monologue as he applies the makeup for the transformation to Freddie.

During the final portion of the show you will be treated to Skelton’s famous reading and interpretation of the Pledge of Allegiance to our flag. This heart warming finale will make you think, bring a tear to your eye and reinforce that you made the right decision to see Brian Hoffman as Red Skelton.

I know there are lots of great entertainment choices in Pigeon Forge, but do yourself and your family a favor and make sure that this show is on your list. Here is the Red Skelton Tribute website.

Brian Hoffman as Red Skelton as Freddie the Freeloader

Brian Hoffman as Red Skelton as Freddie the Freeloader