I saw this show for the very first time on the evening of Saturday, May 29, 2010. Branson has a lot of world class shows and a handful of world class magic shows have graced our stages, but this show may be the best yet. It is both a magic show and a variety show featuring magicians David and Denise Hamner, comedian and ventriloquist Jim Barber and an excellent set of powerful, well-costumed dancers, the most outstanding of whom is Ken Brown.
The Hamner Barber Theater, located on Shepherd of the Hills Expressway just north of the Imax Entertainment Center and nearly across from the Pierce Arrow Theater, is a smaller theater, but it has a big feeling. It is modestly, yet beautiful decorated. The stage lighting is impressive, too, and adds a great deal to the air of mystery necessary to any good magic show. As I was seated by the usher and had a first chance to look around at this theater, I felt a rush of anticipation.
First out on stage were the Barbers and their beautiful birds, followed by the funniest ventriloquist act I’ve ever seen. Jim Barber is proof that Vaudeville really is still alive.
Each magic act was followed by a comedy or dance number. This alternating platform is the classic Branson style of stage presentation. Hamner and Barber use it to great effect, alternating high drama with sometimes low, but effective, humor.
Each magical presentation was accompanied by a theme, some stirring while others were humorous. The themes were such as the Ark of the Covenant, an Egyptian tomb, the Hamner’s “most dangerous illusion” called “Vertigo” and an amazing and humorous dance/magic number featuring Barber as Huston Towers (an amazing spoof on Austin Powers).
Seeing Jim Barber’s hilarious routines with his puppet, “Chico Pete,” the Chihuahua is worth the ticket price all by itself.
This entire show is not only amazing, but it is incredibly funny. The costumes are outstanding. The dancers are top notch. Ken Brown was particularly impressive because of the strength and fluidity of his movements, but they all danced beautifully.
As is customary in Branson where every day is “Veteran’s Day,” the entire cast performed a moving tribute to American soldiers.
Interestingly, David Hamner is also a preacher and on Sunday mornings you are invited to what promises to a very entertaining free show in the form of a church service at the theater. Any church service by Branson entertainers is bound to be like nothing else you’ve seen anywhere else.
We have a lot of excellent shows in Branson and a number of them are truly world class. This is one of them. If you’re in Branson, Missouri, I hope you get a chance to enjoy this show: You’ll find full details including current show times and ticket prices at their web site: http://www.hamnerbarber.com.
Don’t miss this one!