Dean and Sheila decided when their oldest children were very young that they wanted them to have successful lives and that the best way to help them achieve this was through discipline and hard work. So they decided to start the kids in music lessons. The kids practiced every morning before school, with Sheila and Dean moving from room to room to help with lessons.
Dean and Sheila never anticipated 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 Duttons 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 so many places and helped them meet so many wonderful people, and it’s been a tremendous blessing in their lives.
Today, Dean plays rhythm guitar and sings bass and has an occasional solo in the show. Sheila plays acoustic and electric bass, provides narrative during the shows, and assists with productions and rehearsals. They also manage the businesses associated with the theater, with Sheila serving as CEO and Dean as CFO of the five or six businesses that fall under the Dutton umbrella.
Their favorite titles, however, are Grandpa and Grandma, and they find it very fulfilling to be able to watch their grandchildren learn and grow alongside their parents in the theater business.