Situated in the heart of Branson on 76 Country Boulevard is King’s Castle Theatre. The “King” component of the theater’s name honors Mr. David King, the British theatrical show producer and owner of King’s Castle Theatre. As the other part of the theater’s name suggests, this performance venue was designed in the style of a Medieval Irish castle. A few of the signature elements of a historic castle adorn the exterior of the building, such as gray stone, battlements, and a tower (no alligator-filled moat, thankfully). As one enters the lobby, a feeling occurs of being transported to 14th century Ireland, despite being in the middle of Branson. Stately banners drape across the ceiling and walls, reinforcing the theme of regality. One will be stunned by the height of the ceilings, charmed by the knights in shining armor displayed above the snack bar, and intrigued by the large gift shop stocked with everything from fine jewelry to funny socks.
Although the building’s façade is modeled after a centuries-old architectural style, the inside of the theater is robust with modern technology. When the theater was constructed in the 1990s, it originally opened as Bobby Vinton’s Blue Velvet theater, in reference to the legendary crooner’s 1963 hit song. Following the damage caused by the tornado that struck Branson on Leap Day in 2012, the theater underwent repairs for nearly an entire year. One could consider this unfortunate event a sort of blessing in disguise, as it brought about updates that have enhanced and broadened the entertainment available in Branson. Presently, the King’s Castle Theatre is revered for the state-of-the-art sound and light systems that make every show come to life.
The cast and crew at King’s Castle Theatre work tirelessly to make each show a smashing success, which is evidenced in the quality of the productions. After talking with Jacqui Bell, who is the general manager, resident director, and resident choreographer of King’s Castle Theatre, it is clear why this theater hosts many award-winning shows. Originally from Scotland, Bell came to the United States in 2008 to further her career as a dancer. Her firsthand familiarity with traditional Irish song and dance helps to maintain the authenticity of shows such as Dublin’s Irish Tenors & Celtic Ladies. Bell’s heritage, as well as her knowledge within the disciplines of choreography and stage design unite to create an unmatched production quality.
Staying connected with her Scottish roots is something that Bell prioritizes for her and her family. Each year, Bell, along with her husband and children, visit her family back in Scotland. Bell explains, “We do a lot of sightseeing, just purely because I want my kids to see as much as they can when we’re over there. And my husband, too, because they’re not from there. But yeah, we’re mainly there to visit friends and family. We have dinner, watch tv, that sort of thing.” She describes a typical Scottish dinner as “Steak pies, so it’s like, chopped up, like, cubes of steak, almost, [with] a puff pastry over the top.” When discussing which Scottish dishes her children enjoy, she says, “Haggis, obviously. My children have really taken to haggis.” Bell elaborates on haggis, which is the national dish of Scotland, by saying, “Haggis is, um, sheep’s intestines wrapped in the stomach lining, and boiled. So, it’s almost, like, mince meat, hamburger meat-ish, but it’s traditional, old, old Scottish traditional food.” The colloquial term for this dish is, “...haggis neeps and tatties, so ‘neeps’ are turnips, and ‘tatties’ are what they call potatoes.” The presentation of this dish is meaningful to Scottish tradition, too. “And then you have asparagus, um, on the top, and they cross it like this (Bell makes an ‘X’ with her hands), ‘cause the swords, the Scottish swords, that they–the traditional sword dancing, which we do in this!”, referring to Dublin’s Irish Tenors & Celtic Ladies at King’s Castle Theatre.
My experience at the King’s Castle Theatre was wonderfully enlightening, and I encourage anyone who is interested to experience it for themselves. For the opportunity to learn more about the traditions of the United Kingdom and to watch Broadway-style shows right here in Branson, King’s Castle Theatre is the premier choice. The shows currently playing are The Ultimate 70s Show: Dancing Queen, Dublin’s Irish Tenors & Celtic Ladies, New Jersey Nights, and Anthems of Rock. For more specific information and showtimes, please visit King’s Castle Theatre’s website. To reserve tickets, please contact Discover Branson for the best values you’ll find on tickets.