After a bus crash, The Duttons are preparing to return to Mesa
December 5, 2019
By Christina Fuoco-Karasinski
The Duttons will soon return to Mesa to play their winter shows, ending a year wrought with heartbreak and celebrations.
After being invited to tape a nationally televised series for Nickelodeon, the family of musicians was involved in a serious accident when its tour bus flipped on its side while the driver was negotiating a dangerous section of an Ohio highway.
All 23 family performers were on board, as well as instruments, equipment and costumes. The bus was totaled. Two performers had to be extricated and all the performers were transported to several nearby hospitals.
“I have seen way too many of these cases, and they don’t have happy endings,” said Sgt. Joe Curmode of the Columbus Police Department. “But this was a happy ending.”
None of the family members sustained serious injuries.
“We will never quit thanking God for his protection,” said Dean Dutton, the family’s patriarch. “It is our joyous privilege to continue doing the work which we started almost 30 years ago.”
Two days after the accident, the family headed to a cruise where it was scheduled to perform.
“We looked terrible,” said Abby Dutton, violinist and singer.
“The right side of my face and my eye were black and blue. The left side of Amy’s face was also black and blue; she was on crutches; she had a broken nose; and a broken toe. We were pieced together with staples, stitches and bandages. We were a mess.”
Singer Judith Dutton, who also plays keyboards and dances, was kept in the hospital the longest, with damaged veins on her neck, leaving her susceptible to a serious stroke. But, she too was released from the hospital in time to meet the cruise ship.
“Our fans lovingly wrapped their arms around us and supported us as our injuries began to heal during the next week,” Sheila said. “But it wasn’t easy.”
Months before the accident, a casting company in Los Angeles contacted The Duttons, asking them to appear on “America’s Most Musical Family,” a new show on Nickelodeon.
In addition to maintaining their regular performance schedule at their theater in Branson, Missouri, they went through rounds of interviews; studio recording sessions; submitting new songs; and performing live with the show’s writers and producers.
Then, only one month after the accident, The Duttons were informed that they had risen to the top of hundreds of family acts to become one of the show’s finalists.
In spite of a near-tragedy that could have claimed their lives, The Dutton “younger generation” set an example of fortitude and positivity.
“It was an incredible summer,” Selena said. “We spent the whole summer practicing instruments and learning new songs and dances. We loved going to Los Angeles and being on national television. And, it was fun to discover that the studio where we filmed the new show was the same studio where our parents filmed ‘America’s Got Talent,’ and where they were named a top-10 finalist”
For The Duttons, the saying “the show must go on” has taken on new meaning, as they experienced, in one summer, a devastating tour bus accident; the exciting honor of being a finalist on Nickelodon’s new show; and the fulfillment of sold-out shows in their Branson theater.
As they bring their shows back to Arizona, beginning January 19, they are excited to share a fresh, new look with Arizona audiences.
“Every night in Branson, audience members are amazed at how much the grandchildren have grown in their talents and how our performances are truly like whole new shows,” Amy said. “We know that’s how our Arizona audiences will feel, as well.”
The Duttons will open their 2020 Arizona schedule at the Dutton Theater in Mesa on Thursday, January 19. The series runs through March 28. Eight different guest artists will appear with them on selected weeks.
For more information, call 480-840-6874 or visit theduttons.com/arizona.