Illusionist team Dave and Denise Hamner (Dave a spitting image of Michael Douglas) swashbuckled onto the stage and introduced us to what would be a major theme of the Hamner portion of the show: birds, from small white doves to spectacularly feathered macaws and cockatoos. In an interesting twist, ventriloquist Jim Barber’s body with the head of sidekick dummy Seville (who looks like Jim) walked out on stage, carrying Seville’s smaller body with Jim Barber’s talking head. Actually, Seville was talking (and singing), and Jim was being ventriloquized. The effect was funny and a bit disorienting, especially when the redheaded female dummy in the purple feather boa was added to the picture. I hope Jim has a good chiropractor. We were also to meet curly-headed outspoken Baby (dummy) before the Hamners returned, this time levitating a young audience volunteer.
Back and forth between Jim and his dummies, singing, and comedy, and the Hamners and their magical acts kept us and the audience amused and soon got us involved. Our front-row seats this time not only got Bob on stage, but they also got me on stage in a game show to win a million dollars. I got the easy question, and Bob got an impossibly difficult one, so no mil for us, but we did get consolation bags of popcorn. By far the funniest audience involvement came when two guys from the audience were dressed up in wigs and glittery gowns along with Jim Barber, lip-synching and attempting dance moves to the Supremes’ "Stop In the Name of Love." And was I ever glad that wasn’t us.
Variety Show includes the talents of Hamners’ magic acts assistants, who sang and danced for us after intermission. One bizarre Hamner act featured Denise emerging through Dave’s midsection in an almost birth-like and seemingly painful process. In another, Dave had to free himself where he was tied up inside a locked cage in time to grab Denise from where she was falling and about to impale herself onto a bed of long spikes; he did, but of course, just barely. But the most enjoyable Hamner segments were those including their beautiful birds, who appear out of nowhere and fly around over the audience before returning to the stage. Jim’s dialogues with his cast of characters kept us chuckling, especially one with an adorable chimp, in which he talks on a banana-phone.
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January 17, 2006
From journal September in Branson Missouri
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February 13, 2005
From journal Busy Week in Branson