Magic and Comedy in Branson!
On Friday, February 11th the Hamner Barber Variety Show began it’s eighth smash season in Branson, Missouri at the Hamner Barber Theater on Shepherd of the Hills Expressway. The magical Hot Winter Fun occurs weekends through February with a full time Branson show schedule from March through December. Since the show first opened in 2004, the production has grown and developed into what is now considered to be one of Branson’s most popular attractions for families with a show that truly appeals to all age groups.
The acclaimed Branson magic and variety show features the original illusions of Dave and Denise Hamner and the inventive vocal comedy of ventriloquist Jim Barber. The Hamners and Jim Barber met several years ago when they were both featured variety artists in the Osmond Brothers Show and the Glen Campbell Goodtime Show respectively. Over the years the two acts waited for an opportunity to work together and eventually in 2002, Jimmy Osmond cast them both to appear in his American Jukebox Show which played for two seasons in Branson. After that show closed, an opportunity was presented to both Dave and Jim to create their own show at the then named Victorian Theater on Shepherd of the Hills Expressway. The Hamners and the Barbers purchased that venue a year later, and renamed it the Hamner Barber Theater.
Beyond the talents of the Hamners and Jim Barber, the variety show has an impressive cast of performers. The gifted Hamner Barber Dancers who perform throughout the season include A.J. Heard, Ken Brown and Gwen Bliss. All three of these artists have been lead dancers in several major Branson production shows as well as for many national and international touring shows. Their choreography by A.J. Heard is interwoven throughout many of the magical routines performed by the Hamners and they are also featured in their own high-energy solo performance titled “Let Me Entertain You,” with powerful vocals sung by Bucky Heard, husband of A.J. Heard, and featured star in the Legends in Concert show at the Dick Clark American Bandstand Theatre.
The newest member of the cast this year is Nicco Zamudio who not only assists the performers backstage with technical needs, but also appears onstage as an assistant to the Hamners and Jim Barber. Nicco recently moved to Branson from Lufkin, TX and demonstrates youthful exuberance and highly motivated enthusiasm for his participation in the show.
To add to the fun, magical Lex Pearson performs his funny off-the-wall brand of magic during his special “show between the show” comedy act during intermission as well as a pre-show performance in the Hamner Barber Theater lobby for the audience guests who arrive early.
Lex also assists during the main show as the illusion and stage manager for the Hamner Barber Variety Show.
Behind the scenes, there are also several very important cast, crew and staff that help make the magic happen onstage. The Lighting and Technical Director for the theater is Paul Linden. His impressive background in lighting, lasers, audio and theatrical production make him a very important asset to the production.
Assisting Paul is follow spotlight operator Bonnie Frerking. Bonnie is an important member of the crew who brings many years of experience in technical theater production. Her lighting cues are vital throughout the show, and she never misses a cue. When not working the lights above the audience, Bonnie also assists in other areas of the theater including the lobby concession sales during intermission.
Of course, the business side of the Hamner Barber Variety Show is just as important as the production aspects. Our two lead staff members who manage the day-to-day operations are Box Office Manager Jan Braschler and Administrative Sales Manager Vance Hebblethwaite. Both Jan and Vance have been working at the theater since it was first built sixteen years ago in 1995 for the Braschler Music Show. More information regarding the theater history is available on this website.
Other important staff members who assist the production throughout the season are Concessions Manager Jan Hammit, Gift Shop Sales associate Norma Jones, Concessions and Gift Shop associates Wanda Scritchfield and Faye Brown, as well as the friendly and experienced Box Office associates Glenda Adams and Brenda Hahn. When you call or visit the Hamner Barber Theater, you can be assured that you will be greeted by a genuinely friendly and knowledgeable staff who will make you feel welcomed as an honored guest.
Beyond the theater employees, cast and crew, there are dozens of other important individuals and businesses who assist with the day-to-day operations, promotion, marketing and general maintenance of the theater facility and property grounds. Though these people are never seen by the theater guests who attend the performances, their involvement is essential to each and every show at the venue throughout each year.
On your next trip to Branson, be sure to include Branson’s premiere magic and comedy show, the Hamner Barber Variety Show on your itinerary of fun things to do in Branson.