Branson road renamed for Andy Williams

Springfield News Leader | Linda Leicht | May 6, 2017

BRANSON — Andy Williams’ Moon River Theatre has a new address, at the corner of Missouri 76 and Andy Williams Boulevard.

The theater hasn’t moved, but the road that runs along the west side of the Andy Williams Performing Arts Center was officially named after the iconic performer Friday afternoon. Williams opened the theater in 1992 and continued to live and perform in Branson until his death in 2012.

On hand for the unveiling of the street sign were Jimmy Osmond, who performed with Williams on television and elsewhere for years with The Osmonds and is now owner of the Andy Williams Performing Arts Center; the Lennon Sisters, who also performed on the Andy Williams Show as youngsters and have been a staple at the Branson theater since 1993; his widow, Debbie, and brother, Don.

Osmond explained that Andy Williams had always wanted to name the private road that runs from Highway 76 — Country Music Boulevard — and Green Mountain Drive. Although he doesn’t know what name Williams had in mind, Osmond said he thinks naming it for the late singer is appropriate.

“He was the first non-country artist to build a theater here,” Osmond pointed out. “He opened the door for so many, including myself and my family. He was also a community builder. … I credit him and (country artist) Roy Clark for being those industry leaders that really caught all of our attention.”

Osmond performs at the Andy Williams theater but also takes an Andy Williams tribute show on tour around the world. No matter where he performs, he said, people tie Williams with Branson. “Andy is still one of the best ambassadors for our town.”

The official unveiling of the street signs, provided by the city, was put off a week because of storms. But Osmond finds the delay to be a blessing, allowing the date to coincide exactly with the opening of the theater 25 years ago.

“In the past 25 years, the theater has hosted almost 8 million visitors,” he said, adding that the theater and the street are an honor to “Andy’s vision and his legacy.”

The 25th anniversary celebration includes the tribute show, “Moon River and Me” through Sept. 29, as well as special weekend performances by R&B greats The Platters and The Drifters, country’s Tanya Tucker and Loretta Lynn, singer/songwriter Neil Sedaka, 1960s heartthrobs Frankie Avalon, Fabian and Bobby Rydell, Paul Anka, The Lettermen and more scheduled throughout the year.

To learn more, call 417-334-4500 or visit AndyWilliamsPAC.com.

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