The “Clay Cooper Country Express Show” opened for the 2018 season last week, and I must say, I was completely blown away by this year’s show, which is quite different from past “Express” productions.
From the ridiculously awesome production and lighting for opening number, which I won’t dare spoil here, (although I will say Clay and his wife and co-producer Tina chose one of the “Greatest”songs to highlight a “Showman” of his magnitude), to the classic country, pop, rock, gospel, patriotic and comedy he’s know for, I was thrilled, enthralled, and most of all, quite surprised.
While Cooper and his cast of talented performers still abide by his traditional format, the song selections, arrangements and production aren’t necessarily what one would expect from this show, but it works perfectly. In the interest of being as spoiler free as possible, I’m not going to mention specifics, but be prepared to be taken for quite a thrilling ride.
In addition to the new material, Cooper and company are also sharing the stage with several new cast members, including James Redden, Jordan Dickison and David Griffin, who perform as a trio. Not only do these guys sound great together, but their voices blend perfectly with the rest of the cast.
To be honest, their tunes with female vocalist Kari Garrison, as well as their participation in a cover of one of my favorite James Brown tunes, along with Clay and the boys, most assuredly stand out as highlights of the show.
Add in some of the best dancers in town and a top-notch band featuring Harrell, Mark Evans, Jimmy Hyde, Jonathan Black, Robbie Springfield and the awesome Barry Bales, and you’d be hard pressed to find anything cooler than this year’s version of the “Clay Cooper Country Express.
More often than not, show producers and performers are scared to take a chance and do something new or unexpected, which usually results in a tired retread of the same old, same old. So I must tip my proverbial hat to Clay and Tina Cooper for having the moxie to take these chances and bring something new, fresh and fun to Ozark Mountain Country.
Y’all go check it out. I promise, you will not be disappointed.