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Branson Behind the Curtain: Hamners’ Unbelievable Variety Theater

A Series by Discover Branson

4 minute read

Hamners’ Unbelievable Variety Theater certainly lives up to its name, showcasing five live shows this season. Hamners’ Unbelievable Variety Show, Back to the Bee Gees, Beach Boys: California Dreamin,’ Thank You for the Music: A Modern Tribute to ABBA, and Mike Walker: Lasting Impressions are all shows that will impress and delight fans of all ages, even if they weren’t around to experience the music when it originally debuted. The lively atmosphere created in all of these shows is truly something you won’t want to miss.

Visitors will love to see Hamners’ Unbelievable Variety Show, the only show in Branson that is part magic, part variety show; Back to the Bee Gees, where three talented performers revisit the era of disco through spectacular vocals and energetic choreography; Beach Boys: California Dreamin,’ a review of hot rods, surf culture, and stunning harmonies that features a reimagined lineup consisting of two female and two male performers; Thank You for the Music: A Modern Tribute to ABBA, in which four-part harmonies, infectious personalities, and mesmerizing light and video elements create a stunning show; and Mike Walker: Lasting Impressions, where Nashville recording artist Mike Walker explores the musical stylings of artists like Willie Nelson, Ray Charles, and dozens more.

Kelly Davis functions in many roles at the theater. The question is not, “What does he do?” at Hamners’ Unbelievable Variety Theater; it would be more apt to question what he doesn’t do. Davis works as the lighting designer and sound engineer for all of the theater’s productions, as well as contributing to the arranging and producing of the shows’ music. Davis has even built stage props for the theater’s shows. He has worked with many of the theater’s performers for several years, which lends itself well to fostering deeper artistic collaboration.

Davis is from Dallas, Texas, and holds a degree in pre- and post-production of music, as well having a background as a musician. Having a comprehensive understanding of the music industry and the technical aspects of music makes him particularly effective in his many roles at Hamners’ Unbelievable Variety Theater. Davis reflects on the genre in which he most often worked when he began his music career, which was heavy metal. “I toured with a band where we only played original songs and Metallica,” Davis says, adding, “We also were a frequent opening band for Pantera.” This time of his life proved to be a formative experience, with Davis saying, “I grew up with those guys. By opening with them, and being on the scene, I ended up doing a lot of work with them.” Davis went on to work the 1996 Lollapalooza Tour, which included iconic rock bands such as Metallica, Soundgarden, and Ramones. Davis discusses the influence of having this experience, saying, “It was a dream come true, to be around all those different people.”

In the late 1990s, Davis began working in the transportation industry in Dallas. Although Davis enjoyed great success in that line of work, he pivoted careers back to music, something that he then found and presently finds immensely fulfilling. Davis is thankful for his decision to leave the transportation industry, saying, “I probably never would have come back to this, if I would have stayed in [transportation], and that would have been a real shame.” Davis, along with his family, moved to Branson in the mid-2000s to put his mastery of musical production to use in Branson theaters. He talks about what a great change it was for his family, and that he is happy to contribute his knowledge and continue his career within the music industry in Branson.

Live musical productions carry a vastly different weight than just listening to recorded music. Davis talks in detail about his dedication to enhancing the quality of the shows, both for the performers as well as for the shows’ audiences. A common problem that many live music shows encounter, and a component that does not go unnoticed by audience members, is sound quality. To this point, Davis is conscious of the way in which the shows are mixed, citing it as a crucial aspect of the overall production value. “[A complaint that people have at other venues] is that it’s ‘too loud;’ it’s not too loud, it’s just not mixed right. There are certain frequencies that are grating and harsh to the human ear.” Davis cares about creating mixes that are right for their respective shows, making for a more pleasant experience. He carefully curates the sound of each show to best highlight the music that is being performed. He succinctly identifies what live music is all about, saying, “If you want to see a live performance, part of it is what you feel.”

Branson is fortunate to have a thoughtful sound engineer, lighting designer, arranger, and producer like Kelly Davis ensuring that each show he runs is a success. Consistently striving for excellence, his expertise makes possible the exciting and engaging shows that are featured at Hamners’ Unbelievable Variety Theater. Now playing are Hamners’ Unbelievable Variety Show, Back to the Bee Gees, Beach Boys: California Dreamin,’ Thank You for the Music: A Modern Tribute to ABBA, and Mike Walker: Lasting Impressions. For tickets to any of these outstanding live shows, contact Discover Branson for more information and for the absolute lowest prices you’ll find in town.

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