By Cecily Markland
For the sixth year running, the Dutton family, will leave their Branson, Missouri, “summer” home and return to Gilbert, Ariz., for the winter.
With them, they will bring busloads of costumes, props and musical instruments—and three generations oozing talent and entertainment quality.
Billed as simply “The Duttons,” the family opened a theater in East Mesa six years ago to bring their popular Branson Christmas shows and their classic winter shows to the Valley.
This year, the familiar pattern had to be adjusted slightly to accommodate their current circumstances.
Josiah—three-year-old son of singer and violinist, Amy, and youngest member of the Dutton family—is being treated for leukemia at St. Jude’s Pediatric Cancer Center in Springfield, Missouri. Ironically, the eldest member, family patriarch and performer, Dean Dutton, was recently diagnosed with a malignant tumor and will undergo treatment as well, his at the Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale.
To accommodate their current situation, The Duttons will perform their Arizona shows only on the weekends—one performance on Thursday evenings, and matinee and evening shows on Fridays and Saturdays, beginning December 13, and running through April 5, 2014. This will allow Amy to be at the hospital with Josiah most of the week, and then commute to Mesa for the weekends, while her husband, Rudy, stays with Josiah.
As taxing as that may sound, “It’s very important to The Duttons, especially Amy and Dean, that the show go on, and with as much energy and fun as ever,” says Mesa’s Nanci Wudel, The Duttons’ creative director.
“The entire family receives uplift and strength as they perform together,” Nanci explains. “They have always been unified in a unique and wonderful way as they perform.”
Nanci says audiences in Arizona have become dear friends to The Duttons—“almost like family members. That’s how they view it.”
Sheila Dutton, who is the family matriarch and performs with her children and grandchildren, says, “Our family has great faith, and the power of prayer is a reality for us. We appreciate the concern and well wishes that we have received from our Arizona audiences, and we hope for their continued prayers on behalf of Josiah and Dean. We know miracles can be realized through prayer, especially the prayers of our friends.”
Top Ten finalists on NBC’s “America’s Got Talent,” The Duttons sing, dance and fiddle their way through a wide array of musical genres, including bluegrass, blues, swing and rock. Their winter shows in Ariz., like their “Best of Branson,” award-winning summer performances showcase the family’s extensive classical training on violin, cello, and bass and bring audiences to their feet. Plus, guest appearances of “Cousin Julio” bring comedy and fun to this fast-paced, high-energy show.
The Duttons have performed on tour throughout the world, and on television in Italy, France, and China, and, in the United States, appearing twice on PBS and on the Jerry Lewis Muscular Dystrophy Telethon.
The Dutton Theater Mesa is located at East Valley High School, 7420 East Main Street (Sun Valley Plaza). To purchase tickets, call 480-840-6874 or visit www.theduttons.com.