Local performer Balthazar channels country music legend Glen Campbell for birthday celebration 

click to enlarge web3.jpg

Leslie Hensley’s Glen Campbell impression was honed on a farm in central Oklahoma. The local actress and performer, often known on stage as Balthazar, performs a one-night-only birthday show as the country music legend 9 p.m. Oct. 7 on Power House’s outdoor stage, 1228 SW Second St. She will be backed on the toe-tapping, intimate night of music by her band, The Country Music Voodoo.

The event also benefits the annual Socktober national sock drive. Guests are encouraged to bring a new pair of socks for donation to a local homeless shelter.

Hensley enrolled in vocal and diction classes to get down both the singer’s smooth tenor and speedy Arkansas conversational twang, but it was her experience on horseback and doing farm work in rural Spencer that she said rounded her role into shape.

She keeps a “Glen journal” with her to make notes while researching the singer’s popular old television series The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour and other ideas for her show. The journal’s cover features a portrait of Campbell and his usual, subtle grin so Hensley can study his smile.

Hensley channeled iconic Queen frontman Freddie Mercury last year for The Boom’s popular and well-received rock musical The King of Queen. Campbell’s strumming is a stark change of pace from the animated and athletic Mercury. Hensley is also known as a key performer and founder of local professional wrestling company BLOW (Balthazar’s Legends of Wrestling).

“It’s going to be different because I’m a very physical performer and he doesn’t move at all,” she said. “It’s all about his music and his voice and the band and how great everything sounds.”

If Campbell and Mercury have anything in common, it is a magnetic presence.

“Their voices are very distinctive; they’re both very amazing,” Hensley said. “They own the stage, but in different ways.”

Hensley said she fell under the Rhinestone Cowboy’s spell in 2004 when she saw him perform with the Oklahoma City Philharmonic at Civic Center Music Hall. Before the show, she liked what she knew of Campbell’s tunes but was not yet aware of how familiar she already was with his body of work.

Hensley said The Country Music Voodoo band name is a reference to the magic timelessness of both Campbell’s music and the genre itself.

She was captivated by the musician’s performance but was even more taken when he returned for an encore of “Amazing Grace” on bagpipes.

“I was just like, ‘All right; I’m done. This is awesome; you are awesome,’” she said.

The night was not over yet. She made it backstage after the concert and met Campbell. Hensley, like the country music star, was born in Arkansas. The two shared tales from their home state, and the musician gave her one of his CDs.

Bear Rodriguez, a guitarist in The Country Music Voodoo, said Hensley has done a good job capturing the musician’s Southern charm.

“Practices are always an event,” Rodriguez said, “so I can’t wait to see what it’s going to be like live in front of an audience.”

Though Hensley, for once, won’t be bounding around stage for a character, she hopes to get across just as much expression with her words and a small, subtle grin.

“He doesn’t have to do a whole lot on stage because he’s so talented at the guitar and his voice carries like butter,” she said. “He sings a song with ease, and all his fingers are going a million miles a minute.”

Print headline: Good times, Local performer Balthazar applies her dedicated character acting technique to her role as music icon Glen Campbell.

Pin It

More by Ben Luschen

Latest in Arts

Registration Opens | Camp Contemporary Spring Break @ Oklahoma Contemporary Arts Center

Registration Opens | Camp Contemporary Spring Break @ Oklahoma Contemporary Arts Center

Fugitive Speech @ Oklahoma Contemporary Arts Center

Fugitive Speech @ Oklahoma Contemporary Arts Center

View all of today's events »

© 2023 Oklahoma Gazette / Tierra Media Inc. All rights reserved.

Powered by Foundation