The U.S. Coast Guard-approved Showboat Branson Belle is the largest vessel constructed outside of a shipyard and the largest ship on a landlocked lake in the United States. The boat was constructed at its port at White River Landing and was launched on August 12, 1994. The boat was launched into Table Rock Lake on launching rails that were lubricated with two tons of bananas at a speed of 14 knots. The bananas were used for lubrication, because it was a biodegradable material that would not pollute Table Rock Lake like grease would have.
After two years of construction the 240′ x 78′ vessel propelled by a stern wheel was completed and started cruises on April 15, 1995. The boat is the first theater vessel constructed in recent history, and one of the largest T-Boats ever designed. The boat conducts dinner theater cruises up to three times daily on the beautiful Table Rock Lake.
The Theater, which has three main tiers and many sub-tiers of seating, is 108 feet long, 33 feet high, and 74 feet wide. All 700 seats provide an unobstructed view of the stage. The total passenger capacity is 1,000. The boat features state-of-the-art audio, video and lighting systems in addition to stage rigging and special effects.
SG Integration (now Paragon 360) was contracted for Audio design, and installation for the interior theatre system, and boat-wide exterior PA system in addition to music BGM playback for the wharf area at the landing.
Noise control from outside sources is of prime importance in the theater world, isolation of engine room noise was critical and achieved successfully. The theatre system design was critical, working with the close tolerances under maritime regulations for ship building. The system design had to meet all necessary requirements. The ship’s design, a long parallel metal structure, presented unique problems with audio design. The seating plan featured some seats in opera-style side seating, some under balconies and other auxiliary spaces. These audio challenges created a need for multiple fill speakers throughout the theatre for proper sound distribution. The Showboat has recently upgraded to a Yamaha digital console. The system incorporates theatrical and boat-wide override switches in the Captain’s pilot house. The main function is to mute any and all systems and allow the Captain to make announcements to the entire vessel when necessary. The full PA system is on battery backup for emergencies.
Paragon 360 has upgraded various systems in Showboat in 2011, 2013 and 2014.