Famed violin player Shoji Tabuchi, who’s become a staple of the Branson performance scene, will start performing for the first time since his theater was shuttered last year due to fire damage.
It’s thought that Tabuchi will reopen his venue, which has been closed since May 2017, in early 2019. But even sooner, the iconic musician and local favorite is taking the stage at another theater along Branson’s entertainment strip.
Tabuchi is now doing Christmas themed shows through December 21st at the Clay Cooper Theater.
Branson show-goer Jeff Benson had been worried about Tabuchi absence. “He hasn’t been here a year and a half since the fire at his theater,” Benson said. “We were wondering because it’d been taking quite a while. It’s been close to a year and a half and we haven’t heard much news.”
Clay Cooper and his wife Tina, who are also performers at the theater they own, are pleased to Tabuchi in their current line-up of entertainers. “He’s always been the standard to live up to,” Clay Cooper said. “He’s always been iconic to Branson,” said Tina Cooper.
Tina Cooper noted the damage to Tabuchi’s theater was a setback for the celebrated performer. “It’s a lot more intricate than people realize because there are so many things involved,” Cooper said. “It’s not just things here and there. It’s theatre seats, it’s costumes, it’s lighting. There’s just so many things that come into play when you have to get the restoration done.”
The Coopers say having him gone from the strip for even one more day would’ve been too long. “We definitely want Shoji here in Branson,” Tina Cooper said. “We think he’s great for our town.”
Branson show-goer Benson is equally excited to have Tabuchi back. “He’s been here a long time,” Benson said. “Kind of an icon. Certainly glad to see he’s coming back.”
(KOLR-TV contributed this report)