Carthage native lights up Branson stage while 10-year-old son follows suit

Photo Courtesy Dusty Wooldridge

BRANSON, Mo. — Branson is known across the country for its dazzling shows and excellent performers, and one of those smiles is from Carthage, Missouri. Another is his 10-year-old son who seems to be following in his father’s footsteps … Or, dance-steps.

Dusty Wooldridge, a 2001 Carthage High School graduate, has lit up Branson stages for 16 years – mostly and currently the Magnificent Seven Variety Show at the Hamner Variety Theater. Meanwhile, his son, Bostyn, just got his first role as Malachi in Sight & Sound Theatre’s production of “Jesus.”

“It’s great when your kids want to try the things you love,” Dusty said. “I feel like I’m passing the torch to him. And even though she’s just 7 years old, our daughter Piper is a great little dancer. They’re planning on being in shows, and their schedules are just as busy as ours. It’s fun and busy times.”

It’s been fun and busy times for Dusty, indeed. After high school, Dusty was attending Missouri Southern State University when he “caught the bug” and left home to pursue a career in the entertainment world. He had already gained two summers of experience at Silver Dollar City in the Veggie Tales shows and a Christmas show.


He lived in California, New York and then returned to Missouri to start his first stint with the Magnificent Seven Variety Show. After four years in Branson, Dusty auditioned and was brought onboard Carnival Cruise Lines.

“That was a great experience and I did that for three years,” he said. “It was fun, it was a great way to work – doing what I love – travel and see the world. The shows were high quality, and when you’re young and single – it was great.”

Bostyn Wooldridge

But he wasn’t planning on staying single … He had met a special lady at MSSU named Tiffany (Crain) of Cassville, and he wanted to come home to her. Everything lined up perfectly for Dusty to come back to the Magnificent Seven and Tiff joined a physical therapist office in Branson. Since then, it’s been 12 wonderful, busy years.

Dusty has also shared stages for several other Silver Dollar City shows, the Branson Belle Show Boat, #1 Hits from 60s, and Red, Hot & Blue. For the past eight years, Dusty has owned and operated the TNT Old Time Photo. That’s probably the best place to come get a good visit with the Carthage native.

“When I think of Carthage, it’s such an important aspect of my life because that’s where my core memories are,” Dusty said. “It’s a place I can always come home to where I feel comfortable. I felt a pool of support, and I was able to go out and pursue what I truly wanted … I’ve always loved performing, and it’s always been my dream to be onstage and seeing the audience reaction. That’s why you do it – every audience is different and that’s part of the thrill.”

To any young, aspiring artist back home, Dusty says the key is to just never give up.

Dusty Wooldridge

“The performing world is always evolving, and it’s changed a lot since I started,” he said. “You have to put yourself on many different digital platforms because now instead of sending in a video to audition, it’s about how many followers you have that gets you the job … And never be afraid of the ‘No’ – That scared me at first. But the next minute could be your ‘Yes.’ If I had stopped, I wouldn’t have achieved my dream.”

You can see Dusty living his dream at the Christmas show at the Magnificent Seven Variety Show through Dec. 13, and Bostyn’s first role in “Jesus” at Sight & Sound Theater through Dec. 30.

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