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Act!vated Stories
Family friendly folktales and travel tales
Act!vated Stories is presented by Act!vated Story Theatre a national touring theatre troupe for children and their families. Since 1988, the Act!vated Actors have toured the continental US and beyond, bringing live educational theatre to students at schools and libraries. Podcasting comedic folktales to you from somewhere on the road once a month or so since 2006.

Jun 7, 2007

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 operation in 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.
Happy Listening,
Dennis (Larry), Kimberly (Curly) and Zephyr (Moe)