Up With People Will Fill The Fox for 2nd Saturdays

November 10, 2011

By Teya Vitu


Up with People brings its multinational musical touring group to The Fox Theatre, 17 West Congress Street, on November 12 as one of the headline events for the ever popular 2nd Saturdays festivities.

The show starts at 7 p.m.

Up with People will deliver its all-new production, “A Song for the World, ” featuring a cast and staff of 100 young adults recruited from 19 countries around the world. If you want to join Up with People, and are between the ages of 17 and 29, the organization will interview prospects right after the show.

Tickets are $10 for general admission and available at The Fox box office and online here.

“A Song for the World is really about possibility”, Up with People Producer/Director Eric Lentz said.  “Our goal is to leave our audiences with a sense of believing that each and every one of them has gifts and talents to share.  Their song for the world – their ability or skill – may be healing the sick, building a home for the needy, teaching the young.  By shining our spotlight on the people and organizations in Tucson and the great work they do, we hope to inspire our audience members to get out and share their gifts – get involved in their own unique way.”

This is a frequent homecoming for Up with People, the international touring ensemble that was founded in Tucson in 1965 but moved its corporate headquarters to Denver in 1993. The troupe performed in 2010 at Rincon High School and also visited Tucson in 2007 and 2009.

This time, though, it’s Downtown, smack dab in the middle of 2nd Saturdays, the city center’s biggest monthly gathering, drawing some 14,000 people.

It’s a Fletcher McCusker trifecta.

McCusker, the one-man Downtown revitalization juggernaut, talked Up with People into stopping off in Tucson between performances in Hermosillo and Phoenix. McCusker, chief executive at Providence Service Corp., is also the chairman of The Fox Tucson Theatre Foundation’s board and he was the driving force behind launching 2nd Saturdays a year and a half ago.

“It’s family friendly and the whole 2nd Saturdays has evolved into a family event,” McCusker said. “It’s a great way to introduce people to The Fox.”

The Fox reopened nearly six years ago, but McCusker said informal audience surveys during bigger events at The Fox typically reveal that half the audience was making its first visit to the The Fox.

McCusker said Up With People staff were in town a while back and Mia Hansen, executive director of Tucson Meet Yourself and an Up with People alum, introduced them to McCusker.

“Why don’t you stop by Tucson?” McCusker suggested – and hardly a McCusker suggestion goes unfulfilled.

“Fletcher is the reason we’re back in Tucson,” confirmed Chelsey Panchot, Up with People’s international promotion manager. “It’s nice when we can tie into something bigger like 2nd Saturdays.”

Up With People is especially excited to perform at The Fox, a marked contrast to the parks and high school auditoriums they are more likely to fill with song and dance.

“I think The Fox is beautiful,” Panchot said. “It’s an incredible space. We try to leave everything on the stage for the community (no matter where we perform), but this great space definitely adds to it.”

The live two-hour performance includes both original and popular music and is a dynamic blend of feature soloists, full cast production numbers, fast-moving choreography and colorful costumes.

The program offers songs and dance form the 1950s, 60s and 70s from Asia, Europe, Mexico and the United States.

“Everybody understands music,” Panchot said. “We want to spread the message of hope. It doesn’t matter if your one or 100, you can make a difference.”

Up with People is much more than one performance at The Fox. The cast arrived in Tucson on November 7 and has been busy around town with community service projects ever since.

Their Downtown stops included Safford Middle School, Imago Dei Middle School, the Armory Park Center and Wingspan.

Up with People cast members conducted a cross cultural workshop with kindergarten through eighth grade students at Safford, discussing personal values vs. global values. At Imago Dei, they helped paint interior walls and had a workshop with students.

On Thursday, Up with People put on a mini-concert at Armory Park Center for 200 students from Imago Dei, Safford and City High School.

Cast members also showed up at Wingspan to help renovate the community center, build a state and paint walls.

Up with People was founded in Tucson by J. Blanton Belk in 1965 as a positive voice for young people during a turbulent period in the United States. Up with People has become known as a tremendous force in international relations, education, and entertainment.

More than 21,000 young men and women from more than 102 countries have come together to travel in 180 casts to deliver a common message of hope and goodwill to people around the world, and pursue their own global education and personal growth goals through service, music and travel.

Up with People has visited more than 4,000 communities in 42 countries;

Over 3 million hours of community service have been performed by Up with People students;

500,000 host families around the world have welcomed Up with People students into their homes. For this Tucson visit, 52 local families are hosting the cast.

An estimated 22 million people worldwide have been directly impacted by Up with People.