By Andrea Brett
Life has been crazy lately. We are in the throes of preparing for our Christmas show, which opens in just 16 days! This year, we’ve taken on the goal of becoming the Christmas show to see in Branson. For The Bretts, putting a show on stage takes more time and energy and heart than is sometimes humanly possible. Every aspect of the experience has to be attended to – the atmosphere, the lights, the sound, the video, the props, the technical, the script, the wardrobe, the choreography, the marketing, the customer care, and oh, just one more thing - the music! And all of this on top of just trying to maintain a life. Kinda.
Since this year’s Christmas Show, “A Brett Family Christmas,” will feature a lot of new “stuff,” we have all found ourselves coming and going like never before. So much so, that we have neglected something very significant and important in our lives. It’s something that, in a way, I’ve wanted to neglect because honestly, it is hard for me. And for all of us. Part of me has just wanted to let it go unnoticed, as if by doing that, it might not happen - I think they call that denial – but I realized a few days ago how much I and we would regret it if we didn’t say something. We’ve announced it to some, but not to all, so many of you may be hearing it now for the first time. So, here goes…
After 19 years of a full Branson schedule, beginning in 2018 and for years beyond, The Bretts will be performing in Branson only during the Christmas season. As a performing family, “A Brett Family Christmas” will take us into the future and we are excited about creating our best Christmas show ever. That’s the upside. The hard part - this means that we only have five more regular season shows. This may not seem like a big deal to some, but for us, it represents a big change and is a huge deal.
This has not been an easy decision for our family, because we love what we do. But Tom and I have raised children who are now amazing adults with their own lives and dreams and aspirations. Imagine that! Theirs are the kind of dreams that brought the two of us and our much younger family to Branson nearly 20 years ago to begin the adventure of a lifetime – a career in live entertainment.
When we began here on the Showboat Branson Belle in 1999, Tom actually asked the show producer to coach us on what to do with the hand that the microphone wasn’t in. From those tentative beginnings, we have watched our family grow into seasoned, professional musicians and entertainers who could confidently take any stage in the world. We have grown from a family who probably had no business even being here to a family who has made music their business for nineteen years and counting.
The entertainment path is a treacherous, joyous, painful, happy path. It’s full of great risk and great reward. Artistry requires a tender soul and thick skin. It is not for the faint hearted and I applaud my family for their courage and their strength and their talent and tenacity. Our years on stage together have stretched us not just as performers, but as people. And I just have to say it has been an indescribable privilege to take the stage every day with the finest people I know in the world, my own family.
Now, I may be making this sound like we are packing it in. That is far from the truth. We are working harder than ever on our Christmas show, and that will continue to be the case as we make Christmas “our thing.” However, for a girl who doesn’t like change, and who has a very difficult time letting go of things I love, I vulnerably acknowledge I’m going to miss performing our regular season show A LOT! (Even with all caps, A LOT is an understatement!) For years, this proud mom has watched in the wings with tears in her eyes, as her family has courageously performed, day in and day out, through colds and flu and laryngitis, through pregnancy and back pain and foot pain and broken bones and broken heartache. Like they say, the show must go on. And it has - through college and missions and marriage and military and lots of mistakes and incredible memories. We have given our heart and soul to this business. We’ve weathered the bumps and bruises and the ups and downs that are only known to families who do this for a living. We’ve performed for 14 people and for 21,000 and everywhere in between. Never once have we given less because there were less people. It has been all in and all out for every single show, no matter how many were sitting in the audience. We’ve gone to the boundaries of our personal resources, without ever taking a dime from anyone, to engage the most talented people in the business to help us put on the best show possible. We have not spared what we could give because we have believed that if you’re going to be in this business you owe all you have to the ticket purchasing audience. We’ve invested in excellence and in a product we could be proud of. We’ve been led by an incredible man, a chiropractor in Texas, named Dr. Tom Brett, who after a life altering neck injury had a crazy dream that one day his family would have their own show in Branson.
People often ask how we have done it. The answer to that question is wrapped up in the why we have done it. We’ve felt like were offering something meaningful to the world and that our Heavenly Father put a bass, a baritone, a tenor, an alto, and a soprano all into one family for a reason. So, somehow, we have always made it work. For nearly two decades, and at 10:00 in the morning!
One of the coolest things about show biz is performing for and meeting people from all over the world, from every walk of life, and connecting with them through the powerful medium of music. Through the years, people have told us we’ve made a difference in their lives. That is gratifying beyond words, because that is what this has always been about for us. That has been our family mission. These people have touched our lives in return. These rich connections are a treasure to me and to our family.
And, for those who are musicians and artists at heart, (which you know is both a blessing and a curse,) you may relate to my emotional attachment to some of the songs we have been singing. It may sound silly, but I’m going to miss singing “Route 66” and “Don’t Stop Believing,” and “Sweet Home Alabama” every day. I’m going to miss “Amazing Grace” and “How Great Thou Art” and “That Others May Live.” I’m going to miss watching Brydon doing his 90s dance moves and Briahna totally owning “Proud Mary” and Tom singing “Go Rest High” better than ever and Garon piercing my soul with “Hallelujah.” Etc., etc… These songs have become my friends and we have performed them with the most talented musicians in this town, who are also my friends. Can you grieve a song? It sure feels like it.
But we’re growing up. Briahna has a beautiful family and is a dedicated wife and mom raising children of her own. Brydon is visionary like his Dad and has all the skill and will and talent to back it up. Garon has gifts and talents that are downright scary and are just waiting to be untapped. I can’t say enough about these no longer children of ours. They each have songs of their own for the world to hear. We all do. This is a new song for all of us.
We’ve always said we wouldn’t hold our children back, but when the proverbial rubber hits the road, honestly, that’s easier said than done. We’ve been doing a very special thing together as a family for a very long time. This has been Tom’s and my dream come true. But, with that being said, we have to acknowledge how grateful we are that after all these years, we have adult children who still want to perform together as a family. That is pretty amazing. So, it is with joy that we will come together each Christmas season to celebrate “A Brett Family Christmas.” Since Christmas is about all the things we are about – family and freedom and faith - we feel we can make even a bigger impact with our Christmas show than ever. The dream continues in a more consolidated and purpose filled way. We love Christmas and we plan to provide a Christmas experience that everyone will want to see and feel for years to come.
We still have road dates for our regular season show and are available to do shows by special request. And as anyone who has followed the Branson show scene will attest, things change and we will remain open to every opportunity the Lord has in store for us. We will walk through the doors He opens. We know that great things are ahead.
We feel such deep appreciation for those who have supported us over the years and we would love to have you join us for one of our last regular season shows. We will be performing at our second home, Dick Clark’s American Bandstand Theater, at 10:00 a.m. Tuesday through Friday, October 17-20, and Tuesday, October 24th.
And now, I’ve got to run. There’s a new Christmas opener to write, videos to produce, music to arrange… a new song to sing. We hope you will continue to join us in the singing!