by VICTORIA HENLEY
Ranging from variety shows, musical revues, dinner theatre, magic performances and more, the Smoky Mountains offer an unparalleled variety of entertainment options, sure to delight the entire family.
I scoured the Smokies for the most unique, exciting, and engaging shows that you absolutely Must See on your next vacation.
BRIAN HOFFMAN’S REMEMBERING RED-A TRIBUTE TO RED SKELTON
Brian Hoffman, a consummate professional and polished performer, who previously headlined his highly original tribute show at the Westin Las Vegas Hotel Casino and Spa on Flamingo in Las Vegas, is now performing a residency at his own theater in thet Smoky Mountains.
“Remembering Red-A Tribute to Red Skelton” is a beautifully prepared and expertly performed tribute to a true icon from the “Golden Age” of television, featuring all of Skelton’s most beloved characters including Junior, The Mean Widdle Kid, Clem Kadiddlehopper, Gertrude and Heathcliffe, and of course, Freddie the Freeloader.
Hoffman, one of the only Red Skelton tribute artists in the world (and the only to be officially approved by Red Skelton’s foundation) completely immerses himself in character as Red (as well as all of Red Skelton’s legendary alter egos), nailing every single punchline, nuance and idiosyncrasy in a manner that would surely make Skelton himself proud. The intimate theater setting perfectly suites the nature of his performance as all audience members get an up close and personal look at Hoffman as he seamlessly transitions between jokes and characters, donning signature Skelton items, including a hat gifted to him by Red’s widow.
Hoffman delivers a powerful ode to Red’s interpretation of “The Pledge of Allegiance,” a reminder of Skelton’s ardent patriotism and love of country. Toward the end, he transforms into Freddie the Freeloader in real time, right before delivering a heartwarming speech sure to bring a tear to your eye.
Before headlining his own Red Skelton Tribute Show, Hoffman was a truck driver by trade, appearing intermittently at comedy clubs. Patrons frequently commented on his uncanny resemblance to Red Skelton; however, Brian did not give the comments much thought until a serious car crash rendered him unable to continue his truck driving duties. Shaken and unsure what his next phase in life should be, he noticed a marking on his chin identical to Red’s and took this as a sign from God that he must perform and continue the legacy of this great star of stage and screen.
Thousands of dollars’ worth of Red Skelton memorabilia is on display throughout the theater and lobby area, including a vast array of show playbills and posters from Red’s impressive roster of live performances as well as oil paintings, watercolors, and sketches by Skelton, who was also an acclaimed artist.
PHONE: (865) 428-8900
COUNTRY TONITE (CHRISTMAS SHOW)
Acclaimed season after season by both media outlets and audiences alike, the “Country Tonite” experience can be best described as “Vegas in the Smokies,” complete with a dazzling array of custom-made costumes, state of the art lighting, a world-renowned live band, zany comedy, master vocalists, and a breathtaking display of routines by the talented cast of dancers.
A favorite of locals, Country Tonite consistently offers specials, including local discounts and other exciting offers, often adding new songs, choreography, and costuming to their beloved show format to keep content fresh and interesting for their beloved fans.
The Christmas show is a one of a kind double feature, highlighting classic and contemporary Country hits, top notch dancing, and hilarious comedy from one of Country Tonite’s original cast members, Chan Mullinax (in full on method-mode character as “Bubba”, “Mammaw”, and “ Pappaw” ) during the first half of the show, with a Christmas extravaganza including sleigh rides, snowflakes, Santa Claus, and all your favorite festive holiday hits during the second half.
One of the longest running and most awarded shows in town (including the coveted and prestigious titles of, “Best Live Country Show in America,” “Best Show in the Smokies” and “Show of the Year,” this outstanding production also stands out from the crowd by featuring professional youth performers as a part of the principal cast. This includes Parker Collins (who impresses with his superior dancing and multi-instrumental abilities) as well as Emma Charles Townsend and Sophia Wickwire , who wow attendees nightly with a mature and powerful sound that far exceed their years.
Lori Mullinax, principal female vocalist, also shines brightly with a strong voice, range and stage presence. The talented resident male featured vocalist, John Young, delights audiences with a classic, old-country tenor sound.
PHONE: (865) 453-2003
BIBLICAL TIMES DINNER THEATER
One of the most exciting new dinner attractions in Pigeon Forge, Biblical Times Dinner Theater takes an innovative approach to spreading the gospel by presenting a talented live cast, along with state of the art holographic and 3-D technology.
Having recently undergone a multimillion-dollar renovation, the expansive show space features hundreds of deluxe 27” wide rocking padded upholstered theater chairs and beautifully presented holographic imagery along each wall.
The initial half of the show is filled with lively banter among Biblical Times’ multi-talented cast of players, festive Christmas attire and a perfectly blended mix of both classic and modern holiday tunes.
The second half of the show, “A Savior Has Come” transports guests back in time to the true “reason of the season,” which follows the journey of Jesus’ earthly parents, Mary, and Joseph as they navigate the trials, tribulations, and joys of welcoming the greatest Savior the world has ever known.
Engaging dialogue, a perfectly cast group of players, period costuming and seamless interaction between the live actors and holograms, all blend together for a beautiful retelling of “The Greatest Story Ever Told.”
Not only can you expect to experience incredible sights and sounds unlike anything else you’ll see on the Pigeon Forge Parkway, but you’ll also feast on a meal of biblical proportions while you enjoy the show.
Be sure to stay tuned on Biblical Times’ social media pages for updates regarding the upcoming “Christ” museum, which will feature shrouds, artifacts, pottery, and educational materials from the Biblical era as well as many items from the beloved “Christ Museum of the Smokies,” which recently closed.
In addition to resident full production shows, Biblical Times also features an impressive annual line up of touring Christian and Gospel Groups, including Dove Award winning and nominated artists such as The Sound, The Nelons, Brian Free and Assurance, as well as the LeFevre Quartet.
PHONE: (865) 908-3327
BUTTONWILLOW CIVIL WAR THEATER
Born from a concept by author and historian, Steve Gipson, ButtonWillow Civil War Theater is a historically accurate, nonpartisan, and highly engaging experience that is, at once, both edifying and educational.
Undoubtedly the most unique and original play you’ll experience during your visit to Pigeon Forge, visitors are transported back to the year 1864, where a diehard unionist (portrayed by Gipson, who delivers each and every line with flawless precision and conviction) encounters his Confederate sister (played with unmatched comic timing and aplomb by actress and celebrity animal trainer, Corky Miller), and a battle of wits ensue as both struggle to grasp the other’s vantage point of salvaging their precious South.
The presentation of flags, video projections highlighting various war generals, and an in depth, fascinating analysis of some of the most polarizing issues throughout history, all come together for a highly informative experience sure to leave you with a newfound perspective and understanding on the everlasting power held by the media to change, edit and alter history as it truly occurred.
Gipson, who has toured the United States with this traveling production (which he presented at a variety of schools, colleges , corporate events and more) has found his roots in Pigeon Forge, gaining quick acclaim by both audiences and media outlets alike for his bold and and insightful presentation. The content is presented in a comprehensive format, perfectly suitable for guests of all ages and backgrounds.
PAULA DEEN’S LUMBERJACK FEUD
Owned by the undisputed “Queen of Southern Cuisine” herself, Paula Deen, The Lumberjack Feud Show is an outrageous and rowdy good time, featuring a cast of world-renowned championship lumberjack athletes, competing in a variety of categories, including log rolling, axe throwing, chainsaw carving, canoe jousting, and other edge of your seat, death-defying stunts.
The show opens with welcoming remarks by “Uncle Bud,” who introduces the Lumberjills and Lumberjacks, who amaze and astonish the packed crowds throughout the 1.5-hour show. Lively, hilarious banter among the Lumberjacks is exchanged between competitions, and the audiences become equally invested in each competition as they are divided into two sections, “The Dawsons” and “The McGraws,” vying to win the most Lumberjack “Cookies” (a term utilized within the logging profession to describe the sawed off end of a tree) and ultimately claim the coveted overall title. Aspiring Lumberjacks can safely experience all the fun and excitement of the intense competition they witness throughout the high-octane performance at the Lumberjack Adventure Park, which can also be purchased as a package deal along with the show.
Multi-talented lumberjack stars, Andrew and Tyler and more perform an entertaining bit during the show, where one lucky tot from the audience will get the opportunity to take home their very own freshly cut wooden chair, and opportunities abound to take home a one-of-a-kind souvenir from your experience as personalized Lumberjack cookies, signed by the stars, are awarded to the most enthusiastic audience member following each category.
PHONE: (865) 366-3330
MAIN EVENT THEATER: ELVIS TRIBUTE
The Main Event Theater, owned and operated by Travis James, one of the nation’s top Conway Twitty tribute artists, features two great shows under one roof– both of which have been ranked as one of top productions in town by TripAdvisor.
Now featuring a brand-new powerhouse Elvis impersonator from Canada, Eli Williams, The Main Event Theater has fans buzzing with the arrival of Williams, whose polished delivery, striking physical and vocal resemblance to Presley, and phenomenal stage presence is nothing short of stellar. Williams seamlessly transports Elvis fans back in time through a. unbelievably extensive selection of the icon’s number one hits, including “Love Me Tender,” “The Teddy Bear Song” and “Heartbreak Hotel.”
Traditional costuming, smooth audience interaction, and informative Elvis facts (for instance, Elvis was a ardent fan of opera and modeled mega hit, “It’s Now or Never” after the Italian song”‘O Sole Mio” by Eduardo di Capua).
The intimate theater space allows fans to interact and engage with Williams on a personal level, and the variety of both mainstream and unexpected content is sure to delight and excite Elvis Presley super fans, bringing back memories of, arguably, one of the greatest entertainers of all time.
PHONE: (865) 366-5953
Backstage Pass on IHeart Radio/ FCB Radio Network and CTFashionMag.com is brought to you in part by the Impossibilities Magic show in Gatlinburg, Tenn.
Nestled in the Iris Theater, located inside Gatlinburg’s highest peak, The Gatlinburg Space Needle, Impossibilities blends an exciting, eccentric mix of classic and contemporary magic, zany comedy antics, sleight of hand card tricks, and of course, the mind blowing mind reading skills for which Master Mentalist, Erik Dobell, has become world renowned.
Dobell is also available for private parties and corporate events, so be sure to connect with him on your favorite social media platform and tell him Victoria with Backstage Pass sent you.
Tickets in this intimate theater book up quickly, so be sure to reserve your seats well in advance and be sure to listen to my exclusive interview with Erik, wherever you get your podcasts!
PHONE: (888) 482-3330
Victoria Henley produces Backstage Pass for FCB/iHeart Radio and CTFashionMag.com