Branson Mayor, Raeanna Presley, went on CNN to let the public know that although there was significant damage in Branson, Missouri to the entertainment strip known as 76 Music Highway, out of Fifty Theaters only five to six suffered major damage.  One of the theatres that escaped unscathed was The Mickey Gilley Theater, the new home of SIX where opening night is tonight.

SIX in Branson, photo - Jen Renaud

I spoke with Lynn Knudsen, one of the six brothers that make up SIX yesterday afternoon as he was driving along Music Highway after rehearsals. Lynn noted, “We had to take back roads to get to rehearsals earlier in the day because most of the strip was shut down.”

It appeared that all the members of SIX as well as family and the Mickey Gilley Theater made it through and were ready for opening night.  SIX recently signed a new contract with the Mickey Gilley Theater and had put together a completely brand new show and were anxious to get the 2012 season started.

Wednesday was a time to make sure everybody was okay and travel to the theater under difficult circumstances to  finalize preparations for opening night. Kevin Knudsen went on the air at an early morning radio show in Springfield, Missouri to let fans know that SIX would be on for opening night the following night.

The Branson Hilton - courtesy Branson Chamber of Commerce

Lynn Knudsen kept in contact while surveying the damage travelling east from the Mickey Gilley Theater, the biggest amount seemed to be on the first half of the strip as well as down by the river front. Lynn described a surreal scene when a parking lot was full of two inch landscaping rocks that had tore up cars and businesses, “It looks like these rocks came from a landscaping business, if somebody had been around here with these rocks travelling 130 miles per hour, they would have been stoned to death.”

Damaged Theater on Music Highway- courtesy Branson Chamber of Commerce

Some of the worst damage was across the street from Dolly Parton’s Dixie Stampede. The Stampede was fine, but the businesses across the street including Dick Clark’s American Bandstand Theater were almost totally obliterated.

The tornado seemed to be narrow and skip from one place to the next picking off random hotels, small businesses and the six or so theaters that sustained heavy damage.

Shoney's - courtesy - Branson Chamber of Commerce

Lynn finally had to detour off the strip where there was cleanup going on fixing tilted and bent over power lines. Branson is working day and night to get clean up under way as the tourist season begins.

SIX has been winning over fans and garnering awards every season since they opened a few years ago. SIX even has their own booth at the local Fuddruckers in the groups’ colors as well as memorabilia surrounding the table.

SIX brought their high energy all vocal performance to Branson from Las Vegas to a receptive crowd being the first headlining group in one of the major theaters to do it all with six brothers, six voices and six microphones. In the past they have showcased everything from U2 to Frank Sinatra but this season seemed to be the most ambitious of all with all new music and production.

Opening night is tonight and as they say “The show must go on!”

Hit the Lights! photo - Tammy Grice

 Brad Hardisty – Nashville, TN