Hughes Brothers Theatre

Hughes Brothers Theatre
Branson's Ultimate Entertainment Experience!

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Gary W. Hughes, beloved patriarch of the Hughes Family in Branson, Missouri, passes away


Gary W. Hughes, 74, of Branson, Missouri passed away Sunday, June 8, 2014, at his home following a long but brave battle with cancer. 
Funeral services are scheduled for Tuesday, June 17, 2014, at 11:00 AM at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints at 9113 State Hwy 76, Branson West, Missouri (near Notch, Missouri) with Bishop William Mahoney officiating.  Prior to the services, Visitation will be at the Church from 9:30 AM to 10:45 AM.  Burial at Evergreen Cemetery, located on Hwy 76 between Hwy 265 and Indian Point Rd., will follow the services.
          Gary William Hughes was born March 11, 1940, in Hawthorne, Nevada to Arden and Ethel (Tobler) Hughes.  Gary grew up loving sports, music, and nature.  As a child he ran barefoot on the hot desert sand and spent many hours batting rocks with a stick as far as the eye could see.  He loved the way the desert smelled after a rain storm. 
He attended Mineral High School where he lettered in Football, Basketball, and Baseball.  Although he wasn't a Marine he pitched Baseball for a Marine All-Star team...because they didn't have a good enough pitcher.  Later, when he was in the Army he was selected for their All-Star team because of his high batting average.  Throughout his life he pitched softball for community and church leagues.  He was also an expert horseshoe pitcher, winning several state and national tournaments. 
He worked a lot with the youth, coaching Little League and Babe Ruth baseball.  And finally, he was an avid follower of BYU football and basketball.  Son Jason says that “Dad loved a good competition. He could make a competition out of anything. When we worked together it made the time go quickly and we got a lot more done.”
           Gary also had a love of music and learned to play piano, accordion, and guitar by ear.  He joined his Dad’s dance band at a young age. He had a beautiful, resonant bass voice and was invited to sing and travel with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir for many prestigious events, including a presidential inaugural.

            After serving in the National Guard five years where he studied radio communications and trained to repair the Nike Ajax Missile, Gary served a 2-year church mission to the Eastern States.  There Gary developed his life-time love of missionary work.  While on his mission, he was invited to run the lighting system for a popular tourist attraction & church history site called the Hill Cumorah Pageant. 
            After graduating from Salt Lake Community College in Barbering, Gary met his sweetheart, Lena Kristina Nilsson.  They were married on August 12, 1966, in the Salt Lake Temple in Salt Lake City, Utah.  They settled down in Taylorsville, UT where together they raised five sons who also love sports and music.  Gary found that his barbering skills came in quite handy with raising his boys.  
At first, Gary and Lena combined their musical talents with that of their sons and enjoyed doing music shows together for church and community events.  It wasn't long before Gary and Lena stepped down and the Hughes Brothers Show was officially formed in 1983. Gary and Lena helped support their sons’ budding musical career as they traveled to many places throughout the Rocky Mountain States to perform shows on weekends and during the summer. 

In addition, Gary worked hard to support the family by working several years as an independent milkman.  He owned his own franchise with Hi-land Dairy. As a skilled salesman, he gained a reputation of winning pretty much every sales contest the Dairy launched.  For 19 years Gary owned and operated a decorative concrete fence construction business called Artistic Fence Design, a business where his sons all got a chance to learn about hard physical labor.
In 1994 Gary and Lena signed a contract to bring the Hughes Brothers for the following season to Silver Dollar City, a major turn-of-the-century theme park in Branson, MO.  At this time the family made the decision to work full time in the music business.  Gary and Lena sold their home and walked away from their lucrative fence business to help their sons in their new career opportunity.  The Hughes Brothers performed the 1995 summer season at Silver Dollar City.  From there they moved on to perform in some of Branson’s most popular theatres such as the Osmond Theatre, Wild West Theatre, and Legends Theatre. In 2000, just five years after coming to Branson, Gary and his family were able to purchase their own theatre, the former Roy Clark Celebrity Theatre, now renamed the Hughes
Brothers Theatre.  “Dad was always the ‘Leader of the Band’. He started ‘it’ all,” says Son Marty. “But the thing I will always remember most is that Dad gave me his time and he wanted me there to experience what he loved most.”
            During the past 20 years in Branson, the show has grown from 5 brothers to over 50 talented family members on stage performing in both the “it” show and the “Hughes Brothers Christmas Show”.  Besides being a co-owner and operator of the Hughes Brothers Theatre, Gary ran the sound for the show for many years, became well known for his Papa Hughes Fudge, and landed the starring role of Santa Claus in the Hughes Brothers Christmas Show, which his debilitating illness only caused Gary to miss two seasons.  He generally fixed whatever needed fixing in the Theatre. With his great salesmanship skills, Gary could talk just about anybody into buying a ticket to the Hughes Brothers’ Shows.  He loved serving in the family business.  As daughter –in-law Mara states, “If you were going to associate one word with Dad it would be Faith! Just look at the journey he took to get us where we are today.” Son Andy adds that “our dad served us and lived what he believed. We’re all grateful for his example in our lives.”
In 2003, after their five sons were grown and had families of their own, Gary and Lena adopted four children (three girls and one boy) between the ages of 9 and 13 from Smolensk, Russia.  This gave Gary and Lena a new lease on life with the amazing opportunity of raising a second wonderful family.
In the last few years, Gary rekindled his love of nature by pulling the family together to build a large family garden.  Daughter-in-law Vikki notes that “Dad taught me my love of gardening (especially tomatoes) and I will pass that on to my children. Both the gardening and the love of tomatoes.”  While son Adam adds, “He was my greatest friend...and I’m going to miss his sweet spirit.”
His wife Lena said, “Gary was a loving and devoted husband and father.  He served faithfully as the Patriarch of our large family.  We were all influenced for the better by his passion for life, sports, music, business, gardening, and especially the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  Even in the last couple of months, as he was laid up at home in hospice care, his faith never wavered; he rarely complained and never lost his sense of humor.”  Gary’s youngest daughter, Maria said, “Just a few weeks ago I asked, ‘How are you doing Dad?’ With a perfectly straight face, he made a fist and raised his arm straight in the air, pumping it twice, and said ‘I feel great!  Rah!  Rah!”   Son Ryan said that “living close to mom and dad, I had a lot of opportunities to help Mom care for Dad in his final two months.  It was both a privilege and an honor to serve him.”
Gary is survived by his wife Lena of Branson, MO; nine children all of Branson:  Marty (Cindy); Jason (Mara); Adam (Vikki); Ryan (Carina); Andy (Becky); Sofia; Sarah (James) Wachob; David (Shelby); and Maria.  36 grandchildren: Aaron serving a two-year full-time ministry in Tokyo, Japan;  Dallin (who will soon be serving a mission in Nicaragua); Lauren, Tulsa, OK;  The rest of the grandchildren all reside
in Branson, MO:  Kristina, Derek, Jacob, Joseph, Benjamin, Kaitlyn, Kiersten, Kimberly, Amanda, Allison, Samuel, Noah, James, Jessie, Hannah, Tobler, Emeline, George, Lucy, Oliver, William, Nathaniel, Ashton, Alexandra, Jonas, Newell, Lydia, Matthew, Jonathon, Natalie, Julia, Liam, and Kaia...(and everyone of them know that there wasn’t a soul more proud of them than their Grandpa); brother Bob Arden (Arlene) of Beaver Dam, AZ; sister Lola Glaszczak of Oceanside, CA;  brother-in-law Ray (Tina) Nilsson of Murray, UT; and many nieces and nephews.
He was preceded in death by his parents; his sister Illene Spangler; brother-in-law James Hill; brother-in-law Don Glaszczak; brother-in-law Sven Nilsson; his in-laws George and Britta Nilsson; and four infant grandchildren:  Kayla, Sarah, Sven, & Tate. 

Christmas 2013
Memorial contributions may be made to “The Gary W. Hughes Missionary Fund” (benefiting young missionaries), c/o Bank of Missouri, 800 Hwy 248 Ste C, Branson MO 65616.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

World's Largest Performing Family Keeps "it" Going Strong at their Branson Missouri Theatre

The harsh coldness of January in the Ozarks didn’t deter the Hughes Brothers from kicking off their 2014 season performing “it” Wednesday night in Branson.

“We didn’t get much of a break between our Christmas shows and now,” said Ryan Hughes with a laugh. “We were working on the show, rehearsals and the fact we have a theater to run.

“But, we always get it together and have a lot of fun and excitement, especially around opening night.”

For the past 14 years, the brothers have owned and operated the theater, formerly owned by Roy Clark. Each member of the family has certain duties they are responsible for, from office work to the gift shop.

“Honestly, Jason (the director) probably has the toughest job because everyone has an opinion about what goes on the stage, even the kids,” Ryan Hughes said. “I do all the office work, and nobody is breaking my door down to discuss how I do paperwork.”

Ryan Hughes said Jason Hughes has the final say when it comes to the show, and how it’s put together.

For the first few months, the format will be essentially the same as last year, with a few surprises thrown in. As the season progresses, things will change at a more rapid pace.

“You never uproot a whole show because we have so many changes each year with just the kid’s sections, so we like to work on other things and add them in later,” Ryan Hughes said.
According to the director, there will be a few major changes coming soon.

“The last couple of years, we’ve sort of gone away from some of the more traditional things we’ve done in the past,” Jason Hughes said. “We plan on putting our country music section back in the show as well as a few other things we’d like to see.”

In addition to the country section and a few new Broadway tunes, the brothers are currently working on a few things they just weren’t ready to let out yet.

“We do have a few other things up our sleeve for the rest of the season,” Jason Hughes said. “But right now, they’re hard to explain — some comedy and new a capella stuff, but it’ll be a whole lot of fun.”

While the show will feature several new bits, a few changes had to be made because two of the older children won’t be performing in the show this season.

“My oldest son and Marty’s oldest son are both leaving to become ministers,” Jason Hughes said. “We are so proud of the both of them, but with them leaving, some of the younger kids can step up.”
With a family so large, Hughes said they have a “huge cabinet of weapons” to pull from for the show.
“Some of the younger kids don’t have the same strengths as the older kids, but they have other strengths,” Jason Hughes said.

He said featuring the children allows them to include more contemporary tunes in the show.
“We (the Brothers) do a few contemporary songs, but it works better with the kids,” Jason Hughes said. “Maybe Marty could get away with doing Cee-Lo Green though.”

Despite the fact the brothers perform music from more than six decades, family is the most important driving force behind the show, and that’s what the brothers would like to see people take from the time they spend together.

“I think if people come and see our show, they’ll leave feeling changed,” Jason Hughes said. “We like to give them an awesome experience, but we really hope they’ll want to pick up the phone and make a connection with their family after spending time with ours.”

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