Welk Stars Reunion 2007

Stars of America’s all time favorite variety show are in Branson this week for the Welk Stars Reunion 2007. The five-day schedule with nine live performances at the Welk Resort Theatre begins today (Wednesday, Sept. 5) and runs through Sunday, September 9.

Original guest stars from the Lawrence Welk television show appearing in the Welk Stars Reunion 2007 include Jo Ann Castle, Anacani, Ava Barber, Dick Dale, Jack Imel, Mary Lou Metzger and Roger & David Otwell (see entertainer bios below).

The Welk Stars will be joined by the dance team of Pasha & Ailona and the Champagne Music Makers under the direction of Bobby Tillery. Produced by Mary Lou Metzger, the show will include Big Band favorites, the stars’ signature songs and a few surprises — topped off by an emotion-filled patriotic salute to veterans.

Show times for the Welk Stars Reunion 2007 are Wednesday thru Saturday at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. plus Sunday at 2 p.m. Tickets may be purchased at the Welk Resort Theatre Box Office, by phone at (800)-734-5515 or (417)-337-7469, on the internet at sullivanshows.com or at select Branson-area ticket outlets. Ticket prices including all taxes range from $39.50 for Elite Seating to $34.50 for adults and $14.50 for children. An every day “locals rate” is available to people who live or work in Stone or Taney counties. Proof of employment and/or residency is required.

“The Lawrence Welk Show” was broadcast for 27 years – on the ABC television network from July 1955 to September 1971 and in syndication from 1971 to 1982. Demanding that his shows be clean and wholesome, Welk featured easy-listening music performed by a “family” of wholesome musicians, singers and dancers. The show’s enduring popularity has been proven time and again through highly rated re-runs and specials on PBS since 1987 and 11 years of live performances at The Welk Resort Theatre in Branson.

The Welk Resort and Theatre are located 3 miles south of Highway 76 on State Highway 165. The destination resort complex opened in 1994 and includes a 160-room hotel, the Stage Door Restaurant & Lounge, miniature golf course, swimming pool, game room and other amenities. The 2,245-seat theatre near Table Rock Lake was home to the Lawrence Welk Show from 1994 through 2004. A new alliance announced in October 2003 united the Welk Resort Group and Sullivan Shows in a venture designed to bring an array of new shows to Branson. Welk-Sullivan Productions has operated, managed and marketed the Welk Resort Theatre in Branson since January 1, 2004.

Welk Resort Theatre Fall-Christmas 2007

* Sept. 5 – 9: Welk Stars Reunion 2007
* Sept. 10 – Dec. 7: The Lowe Family
* Sept. 12 – Oct. 20: Tillis Family Reunion starring Mel Tillis & Pam Tillis
* Oct. 29 – Dec. 7: Larry Gatlin & The Gatlin Brothers and The Lennon Sisters
* Nov. 1 – Dec. 8: Mel Tillis & Connie Smith
* Nov. 6 – 12: Traveling Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall display – free, open to public
* Nov. 11: Tony Orlando’s Yellow Ribbon Salute To Veterans
* Nov. 12: Tony Orlando show (limited engagement; 2 p.m. & 8 p.m. on Nov. 12 only)

Welk Stars Reunion 2007: Entertainer Biographies:

Jo Ann Castle – Discovered by Lawrence Welk as a teenager, Jo Ann Castle appeared on the famous band leader’s show for 10 years as both a pianist and accordionist. She became one of the show’s most popular entertainers, becoming known as “Ragtime Piano Gal,” and “Queen of the Honky-Tonk Piano.”

In the 1980s Castle wrote and recorded several collections of ragtime and honky tonk favorites, combining ragtime, honky-tonk and boogie-woogie standards with her original compositions. In 2002 she hosted a PBS special, “Legendary Liberace,” which included a duet with Jo Ann and Liberace created through the magic of television editing.

Today Castle is widely recognized for her unique piano style that combines the veracity of Jerry Lee Lewis with the flamboyance of Liberace. Her live performances are infused with Castle’s distinctive mix of comedy, sass and boundless energy.

Anacani – Born in Sinaloa, Mexico, Anacani was just 12 years old when she became a star on Mexican television, was signed to a recording contract and toured throughout Mexico and Latin America. During a combined tour of Latin America and the United States, she was dining at Lawrence Welk’s restaurant and met the famous maestro. When Lawrence Welk learned that Anacani sang, he auditioned her on the spot and she joined the Lawrence Welk television show in February, 1973. She quickly became an audience favorite and regular performer on the show. She toured with the Lawrence Welk Musicial Family and continues to perform in the United States and Mexico.

The Welk Stars Reunion 2007 marks only the second appearance for Anacani at the Welk Resort Theatre in Branson. This bilingual vocalist, Latin dancer and actor performs as a soloist with many symphony orchestras and is also an accomplished musician on the guitar and piano. In addition to her musical talents, Anacani also designs and creates all of her

Ava Barber – this singer/pianist was a regular on “The Lawrence Welk Show” from 1974 to 1982. She had a hit record in 1978, “Bucket To The South,” and appeared on many television shows including “Nashville Now,” “Music City Tonight,” “Prime Time,” “Crook & Chase Show” and “The Grand Ole Opry.” In 1990 she opened her own theatre in Pigeon Forge, Tenn., and performed there until August 1996. She appeared frequently at the Welk Resort Theatre in Branson with the Welk Show and tours across the country.

Dick Dale – began singing and playing saxophone with the Lawrence Welk Orchestra in 1951 and continued on “The Lawrence Welk Show” until 1982. Dale also danced, performed comedy segments and was part of the show’s production staff. He played the role of Santa Claus every year during the annual “Welk Christmas Show.” In the 1990s, Dale perfomed at Ava Barber’s Rainbow Music Theatre in Tennessee for five years and also performed

Jack Imel – joined “The Lawrence Welk Show” in 1957, quickly becoming a regular on the show with his energetic marima act that concluded with Imel leaping over the marimba. The multi-talened Imel went on to sing, dance, choreograph, produce and direct on “The Lawrence Welk Show” and in live performances. He appeared frequently at the Welk Resort Theatre in Branson from 1994 through 2004 and today he continues to delight audiences with his energetic marimba playing and tap dancing.

Mary Lou Metzger – began her entertainment career at age 7. She majored in music at Temple University and was later introduced to Lawrence Welk by a talent scout. Following her first Welk Performance in 1970, Metzger became known as the girl who danced with Mr. Welk at the end of the weekly television shows. She produces video and stage projects including live performances for the Welk Resort in Escondido, Calif. and the Welk Resort Theatre in Branson, Mo. Metzger is producing this week’s Welk Stars Reunion 2007.

Roger & David Otwell – born in Tulia, Texas, these twin brothers first got into music by playing the tuba in the high school band. They won music scholarships to Lubbock Christian College as members of the “Good Time Singers.” After moving on to West Texas State, they auditioned for Lawrence Welk and joined the television show in October 1977, teaming with the Aldridge Sisters. Today they reside in Texas with their families and continue to perform together in concerts, churches, special events and for Lawrence Welk Show wraparounds on public television. The Welk Stars Reunion 2007 marks their first performance in Branson at the Welk Resort Theatre.

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