When the new Branson Airport opened it’s runway in May of 2009, the First Annual Branson Airshow featuring the United States Air Force Thunderbirds and a host of other flying daredevils brought a brand new form of entertainment high above the skies of the Live Show Capital of the World. It wasn’t the first time however, that Branson audiences looked up to see the miraculous happenings in the air above.
Before the screaming jet engines and the plumes of dense smoke, there was a modestly quaint and colorful performance happening nightly over the heads of astonished Branson theater goers. The act was called the “Pirate Parrot Act” and was developed over many years of intense training, love and dedication by professional illusionists Dave and Denise Hamner who came to the Ozarks from their ranch home in Southern California where they raised their birds by hand and tended to them kindly as if they were their own children. In their one-of-a-kind act, a beautiful bevy of exotic, tropical parrots appear from nowhere, flying low enough over the audience as to rustle the hair of anyone in their path. There are macaws, cockatoos and even white doves creating a seemingly endless array of feathered fun to the delight of those looking up from below. The giddy laughs of amazement and vocal cheers from the crowd is testament to the sheer magnificence of their original routine. Branson audiences had never seen anything like this before.
The Hamners were receiving high recognition for their magical effects, long before bringing them to Branson. In addition to appearances across the country, they’ve performed at major attractions such as Disneyland and Hollywood’s Magic Castle. After a performance in Las Vegas, entertainment Superstars Siegfried and Roy presented the Hamners with their prestigious Bronze Lion Award for excellence and shortly thereafter, they were asked to perform with their beautiful birds on NBC’s “World’s Greatest Magic” TV special which has been aired around the world numerous times. Host John Ritter introduced the Hamners as “the most amazing bird act in all of magic.”
When the Hamners were hired to perform at a theater in the Mutton Hollow Theme Park in Branson, Missouri (most recently known as Celebration City), they were so taken by the beauty of the Ozarks, that they sought out other opportunities to stay in the area. After an invitation from Jimmy Osmond to join him and his talented brothers at the Osmond Family Theater, The Hamners began to earn a reputation around Branson as one of the most amazing support acts in town. When their contract at the Osmond Theater expired, Dave and Denise were offered a featured role in a new production show called “Branson City Lights” which then led to an opportunity to finally headline their own “Magic of the Night” spectacular at the Remington Theatre. A couple years later, they once again teamed up with Jimmy Osmond to perform in the “American Jukebox Show” where they shared a dressing room with comedian, ventriloquist Jim Barber who had also been cast in the new show. Although the Hamners and Jim Barber had been friends for many years prior, this opportunity to appear in the same show brought them much closer together.
After a successful two-season run, the plug was pulled on the American Jukebox Show creating an opportunity for the performers to move on to new ventures. Jimmy Osmond traveled to England to produce and star in various projects, and in the Spring of 2004, Jim Barber and The Hamners were offered an opportunity to co-star in their very own “Hamner Barber Variety Show” at another venue that they now own together, the Hamner Barber Theater on Shepherd of the Hills Expressway. In 2010, the award-winning variety show will celebrate it’s seventh-season as Branson’s most unique family show featuring magic, comedy, music and dance.
In addition to their magical feathered friends, the Hamners have also invented and developed many never-before-seen stage illusions that can only be experienced at their Branson show. In the world of illusion, The Hamners are true originals in every sense of the word. As long as they continue to step out onto the stage of the Hamner Barber Theater, there will be magic in the air above Branson!