Now, let’s get to it.
A ‘Lasting Impression’ from Mike Walker
As I’ve stated many times in this column, sometimes I forget the sheer amount of talent we’re surrounded by here in Ozark Mountain Country, and there aren’t too many things that thrill me more than being reminded of that.
After seeing “Mike Walker — Lasting Impressions” last week at the Hamners Variety Theatre, I remembered exactly why Mike Walker is one of the few people in this town, or any other town, who can stand on a stage all alone and solidly entertain a crowd for two full hours.
Walker starts off with a hit song of his own, 2001’s “Honey Do,” which highlights his own voice, and from there, he maniacally delves into dozens of impressions that are so good, you find yourself looking extra close to make sure he isn’t lip syncing to a vocal track.
Spoiler alert: He is not.
Walker is an impressionist, not an impersonator, which means aside from a few props, his goal is to sound more like these legendary artists than he looks, which is a good thing because his impression of Cher would have taken on a whole new vibe had he put on one of her outfits.
Anyway, some of my personal favorites include Ray Charles, a duet with Kermit the Frog and Louis Armstrong, a promo featuring Hulk Hogan, Michael Bolton (Disclaimer: I am not a Michael Bolton fan, but Walker’s impression of him is so dead-on, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention it here), and of course, Conway Twitty.
Walker’s impression of Conway Twitty is so spot-on he even headlines a full show dedicated to the music and the man, “Conway Remembered,” also at the Hamner Variety Theatre. My late grandmother was a huge Conway fan, and “Conway Remembered” was always her favorite show in town, even though my brother was a performer for more than 15 years at another show.
“I love you son, but that Mike Walker, oh, he’s a cute thing and he sounds just like Conway,” she’d always say.
Anyway, not only did I have a great time, but I spoke to a group of travelers from California who could hardly stay in their seats, let alone contain their excitement for how great his impressions were. Also, he does a stellar job of blending safe “Branson stage” comedy with comedy that is actually funny. Sure, some of his jokes are “corny,” which a lot of folks dig, but some are funny on a “real world” level, which I always appreciate. I have my own likes, dislikes and opinions on so many shows, but at the end of the day, the audience is the ultimate judge, and they loved Walker and his menagerie of characters so much they bought tickets to “Conway Remembered” before they left the theater.
If you haven’t seen Walker, do yourself a favor and do so with the quickness. It really is a great way to spend two hours. “Mike Walker — Lasting Impressions” takes the stage at 2 p.m. every Tuesday and Thursday at the Hamner Variety Theatre. “Conway Remembered” is performed every Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 2 p.m.
For more information, visit hamnersunbelievable.com, or mikewalkermth.com.