Jim Barber & Seville a hit on David Letterman

Jim Barber’s recent performance during the Late Show’s “Ventriloquist Week” was not only enjoyed by the enthusiastic studio audience in the historic Ed Sullivan Theater, and the hard working staff of the show itself, but also by the estimated 4.1 million viewers who tune into the show on an average night.

“Being selected to appear on David Letterman’s show was not only an extreme honor, but a surprisingly fun experience. The staff, stars and crew of the show are the best in the business and they helped make this brief performance one of the highlights of my 35 year career as a professional entertainer. Congratulations to my fellow ventriloquists that have also appeared on Late Show as part of this special “tongue-in-cheek salute” to our rare and wacky art form. Big thanks to David Letterman and everyone at Late Show. ” – Jim Barber

Over a week later, the Hamner Barber Theater’s e-mail box continues to receive many letters of support and congratulations from friends around the globe, both old and new who saw Jim’s act. Some were from inspired young ventriloquists, while others were from well-seasoned professional entertainers who offered a pat on the back. Most however, were from average Letterman viewers who just wanted to say hello and thank Jim for the fun.

“I’m humbled by the hundreds of letters I received in the days that followed my appearance,” said Barber. “I didn’t expect that and am truly thankful for the kind words and appreciation of my act.”

Jim’s performance also caught the eye of some television “Insiders,” including Michele Greppi of Television Week, the community newspaper of the entire television industry.

Her article featured a multi-photo spread of Jim and Seville with a very positive “mash note” to “Late Show With David Letterman” for booking ventriloquists on the show.

Greppi wrote, “If it hadn’t been for rib-tickling “Ventriloquist Week 2,” The Insider would have gone all post-nuclear on everyone…”

Referring to Jim Barber’s act she added, “In addition to making himself appear to be the dummy of his two operatic dummies, Mr. Seville does an inspired bit with a hand in a glass of water.”

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Jim Barber & Seville to appear on Late Show with David Letterman

Branson comedian Jim Barber will “throw his voice” across the national airwaves when he performs his award-winning ventriloquist act on CBS’ “Late Show with David Letterman,” Thursday, February 15.

“The opportunity to perform on David Letterman’s show is incredible,” said Barber, “and quite frankly, something I hadn’t expected. I’ve always been a big fan of the show, but it seemed there was a standing policy of no ventriloquist acts until Letterman’s clever concept of an entire week devoted to ventriloquism. It sounds a bit hokey and perhaps what I do is considered a novelty, but according to the Late Show ratings, America is ready for some good ol’ fashioned entertainment once again. That’s what Branson is all about and I’m honored to have this opportunity to share a bit of my humor and imagination with the entire country.”

Jim Barber was selected as one of the five top professional ventriloquists to appear as part of the Late Show’s “Ventriloquist Week” which pulled in extremely high ratings for the program last fall when the concept was first launched. The idea came from Letterman himself during a writer’s meeting. According to writer and producer Eric Stangel, his efforts to seek out the best ventriloquist acts in the country turned up a “list of legends and people who are currently getting it done in the world of ventriloquism.” It is also fitting that the show is taped in the Ed Sullivan Theater which hosted so many amazing variety acts during the early years of television.

Barber is a rare variety entertainer who has not only mastered the technical aspects of ventriloquism, but has achieved a level of respect among his peers for his contributions to the artform. He is an advisor to the world’s largest private collection of ventriloquist memorabilia, Vent Haven Museum in Ft. Mitchell, KY and was voted “Ventriloquist of the Year” at the Museum’s International Convention.

With his entertainment partners, Dave and Denise Hamner, Jim is co-star of the “Hamner Barber Variety Show” which performs nightly from February through December at the Hamner Barber Theater in Branson, Missouri. Last year, the International Magicians Society selected Jim as the first ventriloquist in history to receive their coveted Merlin Award as International “Ventriloquist of the Year,” while simultaniously awarding the Hamners a Merlin Award as “Entertainers of the Year.”

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Hamner & Barber to receive International Magicians Society Merlin Awards

Branson entertainers Dave & Denise Hamner and Jim Barber will each be honored as recipients of the “Merlin Award” by the International Magicians Society (IMS). The prestigious awards will be presented to the stars of The Hamner Barber Variety Show in person during their August
12th, 8pm show by the World President of the IMS, Mr. Tony Hassini.

The Hamners are being honored with their second Merlin Award as “Entertainers of the Year.” In 1999 they received the coveted award for “Best Manipulation.”

Making this year’s presentation even more special, Jim Barber is receiving his Merlin Award for “Ventriloquist of the Year,” being the first entertainer ever to receive this award for ventriloquism in the society’s 38 year history.

The International Magicians Society (IMS) is the world’s largest magic society as recorded in the Guinness Book of World Records. The IMS began in 1968 and now has over 37,000 members worldwide. It was created to help promote and preserve the art of magic and provide a format where magicians (and magic hobbyists) could share their secrets and ideas.

In the profession of magic, the Merlin statuette is the equivalent of the Oscar for film, the Emmy for television, and the Tony for theater. It is presented only to those entertainers who have achieved the highest level in their craft. The voting members begin with approximately one hundred names and narrow the list down to a select few. The criteria considered for a winner include talent, showmanship, originality, skills, and above all, the rare ability to entertain under
any conditions.

The Merlin Award statuette was commissioned to over 100 art students from various colleges across the country. The winning design was carved and created in 1968 by New York University art student Carol Michaud.

Some of the more famous winners of the Merlin Award for excellence in magic include: Harry Blackstone, Doug Henning, Siegfried & Roy and David Copperfield.

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Hamner Barber Show win 2005 “Must-See Show” award

With over 100 shows to select from, Branson Critic Online has selected the Hamner Barber Variety Show and the Circle B Chuckwagon Dinner Show to be among the 7 award recipients of this years esteemed Branson Critic Awards.

The shows were selected as Editor’s Pick for the “Branson Must See Show” Award. This special award is presented by the critics themselves as their choice from the many shows they have reviewed personally in Branson throughout the year.

The other 5 award winners were selected by the voting public who submitted nomination reviews for the shows they would like to see nominated. In September and October almost 4000 people participated by voting for their favorites. These winners include: Darren Romeo, Tony Roi, Bucky Heard, The Haygoods and Terry Sanders.

Branson Critic is a network of volunteer writers who offer reviews of Branson shows, attractions, and lodging. It also allows readers to contribute their own show reviews.

For the second year, Branson Critic will be handing out awards to some of the best shows and performers in Branson during the week of November 2-26, 2005. The Hamner Barber Variety Show will be recognized LIVE on stage during their 8pm show on Wednesday, November 23 at the Hamner Barber Theater as editorial columnist Heath Hawkins presents their award.

The Hamner Barber Variety Show features the magic of world class illusionists The Hamners and internationally recognized comedian and ventriloquist Jim Barber. The show also presents a talented group of singer/dancers: AJ Heard, Ken Brown, Tim Lewis and Shanda Watts.

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Hamner Barber new owners of Victorian Theater

Comedian Jim Barber and illusionist team The Hamners announce today that they have purchased “The Victorian Theater” next to the Victorian Shopping Center on Shepherd of the Hills Expressway in Branson, Missouri.

In 2005 the venue will be officially renamed, the “HAMNER BARBER THEATER,” and will be the permanent home to their magical variety show featuring the award winning illusions of Dave and Denise Hamner as well as the vocal comedy of internationally recognized ventriloquist Jim Barber.

There are plans to upgrade many aspects of the theater including the addition of a new marquee sign in front of the theater on Shepherd of the Hills Expressway.

Continuing their long run at the theater will be one of Branson’s original productions, the Braschler Music Show. For over 22 years, the Braschlers have entertained audiences across America. Their repertoire includes country, bluegrass, gospel tunes, and comedy featuring the vocals of Cliff Braschler, Tommy Fairchild, Paul Braschler, Brad Bacon, Sherri Braschler Weiss, Jan Braschler, Merissa Stacy, Gil Stockebrand, Tim Brooks, and Cortlandt Ingram.

“We are honored and thrilled that the Braschler family will remain an integral part of our theater line-up and we look forward to many years of sharing their awesome musical talent with Branson audiences,” stated Jim Barber. “We are also excited that Jan Braschler will remain in place as the theater’s box office manager,” added Dave Hamner.

Throughout the performance season, The Hamners will continue to host their “Solid Gospel Sundays” at the theater every Sunday morning at 10:00am. The free, non-denominational worship service will feature a variety of local performers along with inspiring sermons and speakers.

During November and December the theater will take on a decorative holiday flair and feature not only the Braschler’s Christmas show but also an expanded version of the Hamner Barber production, “The Wings of Christmas.” This new musical production is both magical and inspirational and stars Dave Hamner and Jim Barber in featured performance roles.

A special addition to the holiday show are original songs by T.J. Kuenster, longtime music conductor for Glen Campbell. T.J. wrote Glen’s top ten contemporary gospel hit, “The Greatest Gift of All,” and was the music composer for Don Bluth’s classic animated films “All Dogs Go To Heaven,” and “Rock-A-Doodle.” Also featured in the holiday production are Diane Barber, Denise Hamner, A. J. Heard, Ken Brown and Tim Lewis.

“We wish to thank the thousands of visitors and local area residents who came to watch our new production this year and especially thank all the wonderful ticket outlets, hotels, and travel groups who believe in our talents and promoted our show so well. We love Branson and are so gratefull to have this opportunity to settle down in such a beautiful facility and focus on producing the best family show possible for many years to come!”
– The Hamners and The Barbers

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Hamner Barber show praised in MAGIC Magazine

MAGIC, The Magazine for Magicians is considered to be the premiere periodical in the world of magic. The August 2004 cover story titled, “Branson Magic” reviews the best magic and variety shows playing in Branson this season. Their take on the Hamner Barber Variety Show was nothing short of fantastic!

In a full page story, MAGIC magazine Editor John Moehring praised The Hamner’s original stage escape illusion by stating “Vertigo is not only devilishly suspenseful, but it is perhaps the only stage escape that has a surprise climax that seems physically impossible.”

Moehring also complimented Jim Barber’s half of the show as “clever comedy and impeccable ventriloquism.”

The shows talented cast of dancers also received kudos in the review. “Choreographer A.J. Herd struts her stuff in a Broadway dance medley, “Downtown” Kenny Brown sings with elegance and soul, and Tim Lewis is a hoofer par excellence, proving as Dave (Hamner) has already told his audience, “these guys aren’t just a bunch of box jumpers.”

Moehring concluded his review by stating, “The blending of the talents of Jim Barber and Dave Hamner plays well in this show. And because Jim was a magician before he turned to ventriloquism, while Dave practiced ventriloquism as he first learned magic, the two performers have plans to add some new material to the show – that explores what these two talented guys did and didn’t want to be when they grew up.”

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