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Up With People coming to town next week

By Staff | Feb 8, 2013

Up With People, the group of performers that looks to bridge cultural barriers with song while serving the communities it performs in, comes to North Fort Myers High School next week for the first two shows on a six-month, worldwide tour.

The 120-person song-and-dance ensemble featuring performers from 20 countries arrives Monday, Feb. 11. The performers, who have been staging for their show in Lakeland, will stay with host families and volunteer in the community before performing two shows at the high school Sunday, Feb. 17, at 2 p.m. and 6 p.m.

“We have some great alumni in the community who were excited about bringing us back. We haven’t been in Fort Myers since 1998,” said Chelsea Panchot, tour manager. “They went and found sponsors for us and that excitement made them the first stop for us.”

The reaction to Up With People has been tremendous, according to Lorna Murphy, a member of the advance team.

“There are people buying tickets in advance, asking about it,” Murphy said. “Sales have been good. In our offices we hear every day people are buying tickets.”

“We advise people get their tickets in advance so they are guaranteed a seat. We hope we can get a couple sellouts,” said Isabelle Belliard, who is promoting the show. “We get a lot of sales the day of the show, but for now sales online are going good.”

The troupe will tour through seven countries in North America and Europe before finishing up in June.

The performers are between the ages of 18 and 29, and have all graduated high school. About the only requirement they need is to speak conversational English. Acting or singing experience is not necessary.

When the tour group arrives the individuals will live with local host families, volunteer in the local community at the Harry Chapin Food Bank and other charitable organizations, do regional learning, march in the Edison Festival of Light parade, rehearse and perform their two shows, Murphy said, adding that most of the cast has found a host family.

“We almost have our beds finished. We’re only looking for 15 more beds,” Murphy said. “We will have them all found by the weekend. We want to give everyone an opportunity to host someone.”

Finding host families is usually the biggest hurdle the organization has.

North Fort Myers High School principal Jeff Spiro was unavailable for comment.

If you are interested in hosting a cast member or buying tickets, contact Belliard Belliard@upwithpeople.org or Murphy LMurphy@upwithpeople.org.

Tickets for the show are $15 for adults and $10 for students, seniors and children. They can be purchased online at www.upwithpeople.org/fortmyers/ or at the Alliance for the Arts, 10091 McGregor Blvd., in Fort Myers.

Up with People has performed in more than 100 countries and has entertained presidents and popes, as well as provide halftime entertainment at numerous Super Bowls.