Hundreds of area residents gathered at Liberty Plaza in Downtown Branson this past Saturday (June 1st) to enjoy a fun-filled day of art, entertainment and some of the tastiest barbecue ever to be served out of a firetruck!

The purpose of the entire event, was to raise funds to assist the Branson Regional Arts Council (BRAC) to eventually obtain full ownership of the Historic Owen Theatre, built in 1936, and now the official home of the Arts Council and it’s community theatre and Youth Arts Conservatory program. In January 2018, BRAC acquired the venue through a long-term lease with an option to purchase. Since that time, they have presented over a dozen broadway musicals and plays for the community, and also founded a Youth Arts Education Program with emphasis on young students from all across the area who are between the ages of 8 and 18.

Fresh food and cold drinks served all day!

“The first annual BRAC BBQ FEST was a big success, especially when you consider how fast our incredible team of volunteers pulled it together,” said Branson Regional Arts Council Executive Director Jim Barber. “We were able to raise $13,000 after expenses, thanks to the generosity of our event sponsors, Dr. Tallon and Branson Dental Center (Premiere Sponsor), Dr. Munshi and the Branson Institute of Sleep (Backstage Sponsor), Mercy Hospitals (Backstage Sponsor), Chic-fil-A Branson (Iced Tea Supplier), as well as our incredible vendors and the hundreds of hungry townspeople who came downtown to enjoy a fantastic meal along with amazing live entertainment on stage.”

BRAC BBQ FEST event Chairperson Darla Howe said, “We especially thank Branson Dental Center and Dr. Richard Tallon who not only participated as our main event sponsor, but also provided the converted, antique firetruck that served up hundreds of plates of delicious pulled pork barbecue sandwiches, hamburgers and hotdogs. Their support of what the Arts Council is doing in our community goes above and beyond our expectations. The entire Branson Dental team were 100% behind this effort, and even assisted in the preparation and serving of the food to our patrons in attendance.”

Dr. Richard Tallon prepares the BBQ meat!

Several local entertainers quickly offered their support of the Arts Council’s efforts to own and restore the Owen Theatre. “These are some of the nicest performers in our community,” said Jim Barber, “and because they graciously shared their amazing talents, we were able to offer free admission to the public, so everyone could enjoy the live music and comedy.”

Exciting performances throughout the day were provided by: Java Jived (acapella group from St. Louis), Branson Comedy Company (improv), Forte Theatre Productions (broadway cabaret music), BRAC Youth Troupe (solos and vocal selections from upcoming productions), Dylan Pratt (vocalist), Micheal Horn (guitar and vocalist), Joey Heard (songwriter and vocalist), Gary Dooms (Saxophone),  Robert Morris (Balloon Twister), and Rick McEwen (guitar and vocalist).

Forte Theatre Production’s Traven Harrington Performs at BRAC BBQ FEST

Multiple Vendors filled the plaza to the max with works of art, custom jewelry, and unique services. Participation vendors included:

James Bartley Shined with Solar Energy!

  • Peter Engler Designs – Jewelry, woodcarvings, free gifts, oil candles and more
  • Joplin Peace Frogs – T-shirts, hats, bags, jackets, purses, decals and jewelry
  • EBBboutique – Acrylic Pour Paintings, Shadow Boxes, Leather Jewelry and Accessories
  • Carolyn Cambronne-Hayes – Framed and matted digital original art prints
  • Silver Jewelry Artist – Sterling and gemstone jewely by award-winning artist Jayme Woodall
  • Sticks, Spoons & More – Handmade wooden spoons, ladles and measuring cups
  • Taneyhills Community Library – Promoting summer reading for kids and library services
  • Branson West Art Gallery Booth

    Scentsy – Scented Wax and Decorative Wax Warmers, and a variety of other home fragrance products.

  • Branson West Art Gallery – Original paintings, photography, jewelry, and wood carvings
  • Concept 24 By Design – Original Art, Crafts, and Prints
  • Salvation Army of Branson – Salvation Army services and community awareness
  • Carolyn DeJager – Young Living Essential Oils
  • Skywire Solar – Solar Energy Information

Jim Barber & Melonie Brown Enjoying The Day

In addition to all the vendor booths and entertainment offerings, the Branson Parks and Recreation Department provided a huge Bounce House for the kids to enjoy. Face painting was led by Melonie Brown with assistance from Roz Slavik and Kristen Ables. To top it off, a special bake goods tent provided tasty treats under the direction of Viola Beyer.

Mercy Hospital hosted the First Aid Booth, and even offered complimentary sunscreen to anyone who needed it. Dozens of BRAC volunteers joined the effort to assist with donation collection, food serving, event set-up and tear-down, and also promotional distribution of posters, flyers and signage all over the Branson area.

The Arts Council extends their sincere appreciation to the City of Branson, Branson Parks & Recreation, the DBBA, and everyone who assisted in this fundraising effort, and they organization looks forward to an even bigger BRAC BBQ FEST event in 2020.

The Branson Regional Arts Council presents, Anything Goes, a 1934 musical with music and lyrics by Cole Porter. The story concerns madcap antics aboard an ocean liner bound from New York to London. Billy Crocker is a stowaway in love with heiress Hope Harcourt, who is engaged to Lord Evelyn Oakleigh. Nightclub singer Reno Sweeney and Public Enemy #13 Moonface Martin aid Billy in his quest to win Hope. The musical introduced such songs as “Anything Goes”, “You’re the Top”, and “I Get a Kick Out of You.”

The high energy dance musical features a cast of 25 actors, and will be presented at the Historic Owen Theatre, 205 S. Commercial St., Branson, MO 65616.

Performance dates are:

  • Thursday, April 26th – 7pm
  • Friday, April 27th – 7pm
  • Saturday, April 28th – 2pm & 7pm
  • Sunday, April 29th – 2pm

After the successful, sold-out run of the Arts Council’s previous show, Annie, patrons are encouraged to purchase tickets for Anything Goes soon.  Reserved seats are on-sale now at




The Branson Regional Arts Council production of Anything Goes is Produced by Kim Hale and Lisa Murphy. The show and music is under the Direction of Lloyd Alexander-Holt, with Choreography by Kristen Dasto.

Leading actress Kristen Dasto models one of the show costumes generously donated by State Park Marina.

Principal cast members of Anything Goes include: Kristen Dasto (Reno Sweeney), Melissa Rivera (Hope Harcourt), Jacob Estes (Lord Evelyn-Oakleigh), Bryan Miller (Elisha Whitney), Kyle Bradley (Billy Crocker), Sean Neil Myers (Moonface Martin), and Kellsey Howerton Bradley (Erma).

Supporting cast include: Haley Bertrand (Evangeline Harcourt), Alex Knudsen (Luke), Noah Beyer (John), Robert Montgomery (Captain of the S.S. American), and Alex Harris (Purser).

The Angels are played by: Dani Groff (Purity), Ezrah Noelle (Chastity), Mary Kim (Virtue), Carly Vanderpluym (Charity), and Callie Altepeter (Angel Swing).

Additional character roles include: Alex Harris (Fred, the bartender and FBI Agent), Jordan Alexander-Holt (Henry T. Dobson), Dylan Pratt (Reporter), Alex Knudsen (Reporter), Mindy Martin Law (News Photographer), Noah Beyer (FBI Agent), and Carrie Orlando (Ensemble).

The ship’s crew and Male Quartet dancers include: Alex Harris, Jordan Alexander-Holt, Noah Beyer, and Alex Knudsen. The Sailor Tappers are performed by Jordan Alexander-Holt, and Lloyd Ray Alexander-Holt.

Finally, to round out this extremely talented cast, playing the Ship’s Passengers/Dancers Blow, and Gabriel Blow are: Alex Harris, Jordan Alexander-Holt, Lloyd Alexander-Holt II, Noah Beyer, Alex Knudsen, Robert Montgomery, Mindy Martin Law, Velvet Case, and Callie Altepeter. Reno and her Four Angels are portrayed by: Carrie Weatley Cassavitis, Haley Bertrand, Megan Rodgers, and Carly Vanderpluym.


A special upgrade for all Anything Goes ticket holders, is a chance to win a 4-hour pontoon boat rental package, courtesy of State Park Marina on beautiful Table Rock Lake. Two lucky winners will be selected among all the ticket holders, in addition to individual raffle tickets which may be purchased before each show, or on the website (Click here for details). Winners do not need to be present to win.

The Branson Regional Arts Council production of Annie is bringing Broadway style musicals back to the Branson Tri-Lakes area!

Lloyd Alexander-Holt, Zoe Allie & Bandit

Annie, the musical, is the premiere production for the Arts Council’s first season in the Historic Owen Theatre in downtown Branson. Performances are March 8-11. 7pm Thursday, Friday and Saturday. 2pm, Saturday and Sunday.

  • Show: Annie
  • Place: Historic Owen Theatre, 205 S. Commercial St., Branson, MO 65616
  • Date/Time: March 8-11, 7pm (Thu-Fri-Sat) and 2pm (Sat-Sun)
  • Reserved seats are required and be purchased online at
The Arts Council assumed operations of the Historic Owen Theatre on January 1st and, just three weeks later, officially merged with Tri-Lakes Community Theatre in an effort to preserve the 35 year history of the organization and to provide Branson’s only year-round venue devoted to community theatre, arts and education.
The Arts Council’s Theatre Advisory Committee oversees the selection of all plays and musicals throughout the performance season. Committee members include: Justin Ables, Kristen Ables, Tina Cool Anderson, Jean Cantwell, Kimberly Hale, Jim Barber, Lisa Murphy, Roz Slavik, Greg Slavik, Patty Slicer, Sue Head, Hayden Head, Darlene Graham, Michelle Inskeep, Delyla Uebel, and Rick Uebel.

Ozarks Live! hosts, Jeremy Rabe and Kelly Smith, interviewed BRAC Executive Director Jim Barber on their daily talk show on KOLR-10 in Springfield, Missouri.They discussed how Annie the musical was selected, as well as what is in store for the Historic Owen Theatre this season.

Leading cast members of Annie include: Zoe Allie
 (Annie), Bekah Williams
 (Secondary Annie), Kelsey Bradley
 (Miss Hanigan), Lloyd Ray Alexander-Holt
 (Oliver Warbucks), and Sarah Sutherland (Grace Farrell), and Bandit (Sandy).
The Orphans are played by: Sophie Douglas, Laurie Payne, Abby Sundahl, Brynleigh Hill, Jordan Kendrick, Sami Sutlcliffe, Bekah Williams, Aleah Oltjenbrun
, Alexis Fischer
 and Emrie Straka.
Featured actors include: Kyle Bradley, Michael Horn, Sean Myers, Jordan Alexander-Holt, Jim Barber, Alex Harris, Noah Beyer, Kristen Dasto, Sarah Williams, Melissa Rivera, Dani Groff, Brenna Kellem, Haley Bertrand, Jonah Conque and Bradie Conque.
The production team includes; Producers: Kim Hale and Lisa Murphy, Assistant Producer: Roz Slavik, Co-Director & Set Design: Jacob Estes, Co-Director & Vocal Director: Lloyd Alexander-Holt, Marketing: Jim Barber and Hayden Head, Choreographer: Jordan Alexander-Holt, Dance Captain: Kristen Dasto, Piano Accompanists: Dee Uebel and Ruth Abbott, Audio Technicians: Rick Uebel and Steve Stewart, Lighting Technicians: Pamela Meadows and Brian HissinkStage Manager: Lori Best, Set Muralist: Larry Waggoner, Set Construction: Louis Allem, Mike Groff, Dave Yeager, Lori Best, Jacob Estes, Nick Batey, Kristen Dasto, Art Hale, KJ Soyland, Michelle Inskeep, and Lex Pearson.

Ozarks Live! host, Jeremy Rabe interviewed the stars of the show, Zoe Allie (Annie), Lloyd Alexander-Holt (Oliver Warbucks) and Bandit from Camp Little Paws (Sandy).  Warbucks and Annie then shared an uplifting song accompanied by Dee Uebel on keyboard.

Annie at the Historic Owen Theatre is presented through special arrangement with Music Theatre International (MTI).
The Branson Regional Arts Council receives some financial assistance from the Missouri Arts Council, as well as individual and business membership support. Anyone interested in sponsorship are asked to visit

The Branson Regional Arts Council has entered into a contract to purchase the Historic Owen Theatre at 205 South Commercial Street in downtown Branson, Missouri.

Local residents Ron and Diane Mathes have owned the venue for many years, providing a showcase for a variety of live music shows including the current productions “A Neil Diamond Tribute” starring Keith Allynn, and “Carpenters Once More,” starring Dianna Lynn. Both shows have a full schedule through mid-December, with the Arts Council assuming operation of the venue in January 2018.

“We truly appreciate that the Mathes’s understand and support the vision of the Branson Regional Arts Council in our quest to improve the lives of area residents and visitors by providing artistic and theatrical community programs,” said Executive Director Jim Barber. “After 52 years as an organization, the Arts Council will have, for the first time, a permanent venue dedicated to presenting community theatre and other arts related programming. This investment will be a catalyst for new economic growth opportunities through arts initiatives that serve our entire area,” added Barber.

(Left to Right) Dr. Hayden Head (BRAC Board Member), Lisa Murphy (BRAC President), Ron & Diane Mathes (Owen Theatre Owners), Harry Styron (BRAC Attorney), Jim Barber (BRAC Executive Director), Kim Hale (BRAC Board Member).

Built in 1936, Branson’s very first theatre was originally owned by Jim Owen, who served as Mayor of Branson for 12 years and achieved International fame as the “King of the River,” for entertaining tourists, corporate executives and even Hollywood celebrities with his popular White River float trips. His passion for promoting the natural beauty of the Ozarks, and his extraordinary entrepreneurship attracted guests such as Gene Autry, Joe DiMaggio, Forrest Tucker, Charleston Heston, and Rose O’Neill.

The Owen Theatre was initially called the “Hillbilly Theatre” and incorporated large, hand painted Ozarks scenes by famed area artist Elsie Bates Fruend, who Mr. Owen lovingly referred to as his “Hill Girl.” Elsie’s paintings and custom jewelry were also displayed in a small, lobby gallery. Several years ago, the City of Branson and the Branson Arts Council commissioned a bronze plaque, which is still on display at the theatre entrance to commemorate Elsie’s work.

Jim Owen had a long list of credentials. His career began as an advertising manager for a Jefferson City Newspaper. After visiting the Ozarks in 1933, he fell in love with the area, making it his permanent home. Before his death in 1972, he had owned a drug store, theatre, and an auto dealership. He was president of a bank and even wrote a fishing column for the Arkansas Gazette in Little Rock, AR. In addition, he owned champion fox hounds and bird dogs, produced his own brand of pet food, and owned a large dairy. In addition to that, he authored a book entitled: “Jim Owen’s Hillbilly Humor” and became the subject of feature magazine articles in Look, Life, and The Saturday Evening Post, with his hilarious and heartwarming stories of life in the Ozarks.

The theatre was designed for Mr. Owen by Carl and Robert Boller of Kansas City, Missouri. The Boller Brothers, who’s family roots were in Vaudeville, are credited with designing, or consulting on the design of, over 300 classic theatre venues nationwide, ranging from small vaudeville houses to large movie palaces. Each theatre was unique, with designs influenced by the history of the towns in which they were located.
Approximately 20 of the Boller Brothers works are listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

By the end of the 1920’s, the brothers were well established as specialists in the architectural field of theater and movie palace design. The stock market crash of October 29, 1929, lead to the great depression, nearly destroying the Boller Brothers firm due to cancelled contracts. By June 1932, Robert, now close to bankruptcy, was forced to close the Kansas City office and move his family to a cabin in the Ozarks in hopes of weathering the bad economy. Over the next few years, he received a handful of commissions, including the design of Branson’s very first movie house, the Owen Theatre. These jobs were enough to allow him to move back to Kansas City and reestablish a small home office where he focused on theatre remodeling, as well as a few new venues of simple modern design.

While many of the Boller Brother theatres have now been demolished or renovated, the Branson Regional Arts Council is excited for this opportunity to preserve the original aspects of the Historic Owen Theatre, while providing a wide variety of artistic, cultural and educational opportunities that support, strengthen, and enhance the lives of Branson area residents and visitors from around the world.