Dean and Sheila Dutton never imagined a career in the entertainment industry. Dean was a tenured professor of economics for 26 years, but he took an unexpected early retirement when the family’s performing career took off. He had played guitar and sousaphone as a teenager but had no intention of making music for a living. Sheila had a lot of other talents, but she always thought of music as a true weakness. But when their oldest three kids started learning bluegrass and wanted their parents to join them in order to be a complete band, Dean dusted off the old guitar, Sheila gave in to the kids’ begging and learned to play bass, and the first Dutton bluegrass band was complete.
Of course, the Dutton’s never would have guessed that all those hours of childhood discipline would turn into a full-fledged music career, but the show has taken them to so many places and helped them meet so many wonderful people, and it’s been a tremendous blessing in their lives. Yet, the most fulfilling thing of all is to be grandpa and grandma of 25 grandchildren, and to watch their grandchildren learn and grow alongside their parents in the theater and music path.
Tim and Judith
Tim is their oldest son, and is now married to Judith, who was no stranger to the music world when she married into the Dutton family. Tim remembers telling his dad when he was a kid that he wished there was no such thing as music. Now he is the most instrumentally versatile of Dean and Sheila’s children> He plays classical guitar, electric guitar, electric bass, upright bass, violin, mandolin (his personal favorite), viola, cello, banjo, some harmonica, jaw harp, piano, and drums. He not only plays every instrument on stage, he also does the entire sound recording for the show and is CEO in training.
Tim and Judith’s brought 3 beautiful children into this world – Jessica, Rachel, and Timmy. Each of them have enjoyed being a part of the show. They have studied violin, piano, and guitar, and are also involved in school work and other extracurricular activities.
Jon and Bella
Jon is the second member of the Dutton legend. He married Bella who is from the islands of Samoa and is a former dancer with the Polynesian Cultural Center in Hawaii. Jon and Belle’s four children, Natalia, Selena, Leila, and Nathanael, all take music lessons and love to perform in the show.
Jon is a big part of any of the comedy that goes into the show. He is also the theater technical director as well as manager over several projects outside of the music business. Jon is the main banjo player, but he also sings and handles many of the electric bass, guitar, and mandolin solos and backup parts. Jon lays a great bass foundation for performances, but according to his brother, sometimes Jon’s greatest skill is in keeping a laid-back balance that is really good for the family dynamic and provides a stable emotional foundation.
Amy and Rudy
Amy knew from the time she was a little girl that she wanted to pursue a career in music, no matter what. She is the show director and lead violinist. She has been voted as “Branson’s Best Violinist” multiple years in a row. In college, Amy was encouraged by her violin professor to leave the family band and pursue a career as a soloist, but Amy loves being a part of the family show and seeing how audiences respond to their message.
Amy and Rudy have four cute boys: Gabriel, Julian, Damian, and Josiah. The older three boys all play violin and piano. They play, sing, and dance in the show and contribute in many other ways, depending on what help is needed. Their youngest son, Josiah, was diagnosed with leukemia when he was 4 years old. The family received worldwide support and love from fans all over. Josiah is in his final stretch of chemotherapy and is expected to make a full recovery from leukemia. He loves the show, and music has been a healing force in his life!!
Ben and Brande
Benjamin says his mom made him take dance lessons so he wouldn’t have to take Ritalin . . . and now Ben makes his four sons take dance lessons. Benjamin is the lead dancer and comedian in the show, but don’t let that fool you; he is also a very skilled and versatile musician. Ben plays cello, mandolin, violin, guitar, drums, bass, and ukulele.
Ben’s wife Brande dances with him on stage and helps with technical support, marketing, and is the mastermind behind the deliciously famous Dutton Fudge. Brande is a mainstay at the theater and there are many projects that get done thanks to her considerable efforts. Together, Brande and Ben are in charge of the Arizona Theater.
They also are the proud parents of four boys: Benjamin Jr., Isaac, Christian, and Luke. All of them take piano and dance lessons. Benjamin Jr. and his cousin Timmy enjoy playing their violins while bending over backwards as a unique, crowd-pleasing part of the show.
Abby and Adam
Abigail is a talented musician and performer, whose preferred instruments are banjo and violin, although she has been known to turn her hand to just about anything if given the chance. In addition, she sings and does power tap in the show. She does some of the choreography with Ben and is a great vocalist.
Abby and Adam have four children: Grace, Seth, Orson, and Marcus. They take music lessons and love to be a part of the show. Like all of the Dutton grandchildren, the kids are given assignments to help with the shows, from concessions to ushering to theater clean-up.
Jenny, an amazing violinist, got her Master’s Degree in violin performance. She performed with the family until 1992. Jenny is now Chief Technology and Operations Officer for a financial planning company, but whenever she comes to town, she joins the show with her violin, banjo, and lovely soprano voice. Her solo specialty is an English folk song called “The Water Is Wide.” Count yourself very lucky if you happen to attend a show while Jenny is in town.
Josh and Evette
Like his sister Jenny, Joshua is a charter member of the Duttons. He is the youngest of the children. Josh taught himself how to play the harmonica at age 10 and is very gifted on it. He also played violin and drums and managed the hotel and all of the employees when he worked in Branson. Joshua performed full time through 2008, when health concerns did not permit him to keep up with the theater’s hectic schedule. He went back to school and completed a computer science degree. He is currently a programming engineer, making educational apps for cell phones.
Josh and his talented wife, Evette, have produced an album of their own original music to keep their hand in the music business, which they love. They have four amazing children: Joshua, Elena, Lilah, and Emma.
It is no wonder that The Dutton’s, with all of their children’s natural talent and hard work, have become a successful and widely loved and known family and performing group!! I would love to see them perform someday, and be part of The Dutton Experience. To learn more about this amazing and talented family, and watch more videos, you can visit their website at http://www.theduttons.com/ .
I am sure they will continue to create more beautiful music and inspire people everywhere throughout the coming years.