Keeping the Tradition of “Mr. Christmas”: Andy Williams Moon River Theatre

moon-river-christmasIn Branson, Christmas comes to life in a variety of shows, attractions and light displays across the city. One of Branson’s favorite Christmas traditions lives at Andy Williams Moon River Theatre, where “Mr. Christmas” entertained audiences of all ages for years.

Before coming to Branson in 1992, Andy Williams had built a successful career as an entertainer that spanned over 50 years. His solo career began in 1952, and grew alongside the careers of famous crooners like Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, Perry Como and Tony Bennett. He recorded 17 gold records, and even hosted his own TV variety show from 1962 to 1971. Williams obtained the title of Mr. Christmas in the 1960s and 70s on his TV show by airing holiday programs. Peter Sagal of National Public Radio said Williams was the man who invented the heartwarming Christmas special.

In addition to his holiday TV specials, Williams recorded Christmas songs like the famous “It’s The Most Wonderful Time of the Year.” Each year, radio stations around the country play this famous Christmas tune. In Branson, you can tune in to 105.9 KGBX from Thanksgiving Day until after Christmas for constant holiday music, including Williams’ songs.

Williams visited Branson and decided to return to build a theatre. The $12 million theatre is 48,000 square feet and features beautiful landscape architecture, including rock formations, waterfalls and foliage. When the theatre opened, it was one of Branson’s most unique, since the town was mostly dominated by country performers. Other non-country performances began to make their way into Branson, and soon the town grew to be known as the live music capital of the world.

When Williams brought his show to Branson in 1992, he began performing live Christmas concerts during the holiday season. The Andy Williams Christmas Show has been a visitor favorite, drawing in crowds from miles away and out of state. Some families even make annual trips to Branson for the heartwarming performance of Andy Williams. In addition to the Christmas show, Williams performed with a number of big name entertainers, such as Glen Campbell, Petula Clark, and Ann-Margret.

This year, the Andy Williams Christmas Show will be without Mr. Christmas for the first time. Since Williams’ death in 2012, the Moon River Theatre has continued to operate, bringing talented artists like Lee Greenwood and Clint Black. This year’s Christmas show will still go on, featuring the Osmonds and the Lennon Sisters, who appeared alongside Williams over the years.

Branson Christmas CTA

This year’s show promises to be a spectacular one as usual. This full production show features a full orchestra, dancers, variety acts and the music of the Christmas season. This year’s show will also include a tribute to Mr. Christmas. The Andy Williams Christmas Show begins Nov. 1 and continues Monday through Saturday until Dec. 7. Each year, the Christmas show has filled the 2000 seat theatre.

In addition to the Christmas show, the First Annual Christmas Tree Lighting will occur at the Moon River Theatre on Nov. 1 at 5 p.m. The tree lighting will be part of a tribute to Williams and the joy his show brought to his audiences over the years.

This holiday season, make sure to see the Andy Williams Christmas Show when you’re in Branson. Your family will love the heartwarming songs and cheer that Mr. Christmas brought to Branson all those years ago.

The Branson Missouri Blog

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