In the spirit of family businesses, which we have been celebrating
lately (and one of which we've been operating for years) we present
some family monkey business: "The Three Brothers", a nonsense tale
from Italy. If you look really hard for the point of this story,
then you're really missing the point of this story. Celebrity
voices have been impersonated, though not necessarily imitated.
The Dutton Family
One family business we encountered this week was the Dutton Family
Branson, MO. When you think Branson, you probably think country
music, and if so you'd be partially correct, but certainly not
entirely. There are plenty of hillbilly song and comedy revues in
town, but there are also many other types of entertainment as well.
This little city of about 6000 people also features a Ripley's
museum (What tourist town doesn't?) and an extensive exhibit of
Titanic artifacts housed in their own building-- a reduced scale,
half-segment ship-shaped (and presumably ship-shape) building
colliding with an ersatz iceberg. There's a troupe of Chinese
acrobats appearing in town, and at the Dutton show we attended,
there was a preview of a Samoan fire-dancing performance.
Even the musical acts themselves are richly varied. There's a
rock'n'roll revue, a Beatles tribute, and one of the countless
knock-offs of "Riverdance". Many famous singers have opened their
own theatres here, including Bobby Vinton (Oh, how Kimberly's late
grandma adored Bobby, a fellow Pole) and Andy Williams -- yep, he's
still kicking, and his Moon River Theatre, it appears, is still
full and flowing.
Which brings us back to the Duttons. We went to their show
expecting essentially bluegrass or something along those lines, but
we were very pleasantly surprised. There was some country music, of
course (it's hard to leave it out in Branson) but the songs they
performed were classics like "Wabash Cannonball", rather than the
over-commercialized ear candy that often passes for country these
days. We were also delighted by their rendition of the
tongue-twisting Hank Snow staple "I've Been Everywhere", which very
well could be our theme song. But the program also included
classical music (which actually is what they cut their teeth on),
pop, ethnic, a touching tribute to veterans, and even Broadway,
including a suite from "Mary Poppins" with rather elaborate set and
costumes. Toss in some jaw-dropping razzle-dazzle musicianship (it
seems to be in their genes to be able to play just about any
instrument behind their backs) and some side-splitting humor, and
you have a show guaranteed to please even Oscar the Grouch.
And the theatre isn't the only thing the Duttons (all three
generations of them) have going for themselves; their inn is right
behind the theatre, and their cafe is right next door. Oh yes, and
if you appreciate homemade fudge, you've found paradise.
Dennis (Larry), Kimberly (Curly) and Zephyr (Moe)