by Linda Burlingame
Hamners’ Unbelievable Variety Show truly is incredible, from the astonishing illusions (I call it magic!) to the amazing variety of entertainment presented. Magic, aerial performances, singing and dancing, a Cyr wheel, trick roping … yes, trick roping — that’s Johnny Lonestar, master of ropes, whips, and pistols. Along with young Dominc, there’s fun for the pre-show. The audience gets to participate … I especially liked the variation on Name That Tune; it’s Name the TV Theme. Trickier than you might think!
Part of the illusion mystique are the gorgeous macaws and cockatoos that make appearances with Dave and Denise Hamner. The birds appear out of nowhere. Well, not exactly out of nowhere. They flutter and fly out from flaming swords, from scarves, balloons and newspapers — I love that one. Dave tears a newspaper into a paper doll version of a bird and voila! You guessed it, a brilliantly colored macaw flies out and soars above the audience! Dave’s sleight of hand with the playing cards, his endless supply of “coins” — I shook my head many times thinking, “How in the world does he do that?”
The illusions are not limited to the birds and close-up acts. Before the evening is over, people will have disappeared only to reappear … over there. Denise will have floated on thin air … and high above a table of steel spikes. That one is called “Vertigo.” But take a breath. It’s not all edge-of-your-seat suspense. Vocalist Jeff Brandt takes the stage to delight you with extraordinary impressions of favorites like Eddie Rabbitt, Neil Diamond (Sweet Caroline, love that song!), Tom Jones — even Tina Turner. Jeff spent 13 years in Las Vegas with Wayne Newton’s show.
The unbelievable continues when Mariya Serykh twists and twirls herself up and down in the rope scarves, to the beat of heart-pounding rhythms. It’s beautiful, and also amazing, to think of the strength and agility required to accomplish those maneuvers.
Tamra Tinoco is a beautiful vocalist and dazzles the audience with a medley of songs that includes Tina Turner’s Rollin’ on the River. Tamra has a powerful voice and is an accomplished entertainer. A Miss Missouri contestant, she has appeared with talents like Vince Gill and The Osmonds. (She, her husband Joe and daughter Talya have their own show at Hamners’ theater — Magnificent Seven Variety Show.)
The dancers are Ken Brown and lovely Sharie Nievar. “Downtown Kenny Brown,” is not only a talented and graceful dancer, but also a comic — he keeps asking to do his trick for the show. Dave puts him off as long as he can, but when Ken finally pulls it off, it’s fun for all. For me, one of the most unbelievable acts in the show is Anthony Soumiatin with his Cyr wheel. The wheel is a “steel or aluminum ring that is four to six inches taller than the performer.” (Think BIG hula-hoop!) Anthony wheels it around on stage before stepping into it. Then controlling it just with his body movements, he whirls and spins horizontally, vertically. Incredible!
Hamners’ illusion based on the infamous Philadelphia Project (U.S. Navy destroyer escort USS Eldridge) is extraordinary. “Stargate” is amazing because different people disappear and someone else appears in the same place! Even the tribute to military veterans is an illusion. You’ll be touched watching the interviews with Iwo Jima survivors and surprised at what comes next.
Dave and Denise have performed all around the world. They were featured on NBC’s World’s Greatest Magic. They’ve appeared in Las Vegas and at Disneyland. Their awards include the Siegfried & Roy Bronze Lion Head Award; International Magicians Society Merlin of Magic Award; and the Las Vegas Magic Masters Award. They’ve brought their performance talent to Branson and with other outstanding talents have created a show that fascinates audiences. You’ll be delighted and your whole family will be entertained. Believe me!