Up With People to perform
Touring musical group Up With People returns to Blackstone Valley for two shows
Volunteer singing troupe performs tonight, Saturday
CUMBERLAND – After their two tour buses pulled into the Transitional Building’s parking lot Monday evening, it didn’t take the Up With People crew long to settle into their latest visit to the town.
Advance team members Michelle Augirre of Mexico and Likun Tang of China had already prepared a schedule of community service events for the show’s 100 cast members during the week, and also arranged for the host families needed to up put them up until after the shows tonight and Saturday night.
But there was also a need to set rehearsal schedules for the 7 p.m. evening shows with Luis Antonio Gonzalez, and also to meet their host families as they arrived at the Transitional Building at high school complex off Mendon Road a few minutes later.
“We’re going to have a great show,” Gonzalez promised when taking a minute to talk with members of the media.
“This is our third city out of 14 on the road,” Gonzalez said of the current tour which began with the opening show in Denver, Colorado, where Up With People maintains its world headquarters.
“It was fantastic how 100 cast members from 15 different countries and 23 states from the U.S. could come together in four weeks be able to put on this show,” he said.
This year’s cast includes members from Ireland, Sweden, Japan, China, Canada, Germany, Mexico, the U.S., the Navaho Nation and more, he said.
After the shows in Cumberland on Friday and Saturday, the cast will be off to its next stop on the tour, Portsmouth, N.H. from Sept. 18 -25, and then to Harrisonburg, VA, Sept. 25 to Oct. 2, and Washington D.C., Oct. 2 to Oct. 9, before the show heads to Germany for European dates.
Gonzalez said a special visit to Rome was recently add to the tour schedule, and the cast members will be performing two shows on that stop between Dec. 3 and Dec. 10, including one in the Vatican expected to be attended by Pope Francis.
As for their stay in Cumberland, Michelle Augirre said she and Likun Tang have arranged a list of community service activities in Cumberland, Woonsocket, and Pawtucket to give the cast members plenty of opportunities to inspire area young people.
The schedule includes volunteering at the Cumberland Senior Center, working with the Office of Child and Youth Learning program both before and afterschool and on Wednesday, a stop at the Woonsocket Senior Center. The cast will also be working at the Pawtucket Senior Center to help the Samaritans of Rhode Island put together an upcoming art show at the Forget Me Not gallery, she said.
Volunteerism is part of the Up With People mission to create opportunities to connect with other people and inspire them to take action to meet the needs of their community.
The organization seeks to use music, according to its mission statement, as a means to communicate with and inspire people.
Augirre said she experienced that mission personally when she joined Up With People for a one-year tour as a cast member five years ago.
“It changed my life and made me see another side of the world and myself that I would not have been able to see if I had stayed at home,” she said.
The year with Up With People impacted her so much, she decided in January to become a staff member and restart her connection with organization.
“Now it is my work too, but it is enjoyable work and I like it more because I get to stay in communities for four weeks and get to know the people in the community,” she said.
For a short time, Augirre said she becomes a part of the community, a resident of sorts, and that brings its own rewards. “I get to know the people in the community in general,” she said.
Up With People also helps the communities it visits, she noted. The organization will be giving profits from the two local shows to the Cumberland Parent Teacher Organizations to enhance educational opportunities in local schools, she noted. Up With People last visited Cumberland three years ago and at that time, Tang stayed with a local host family while a part of the touring group. Tang was able to reconnect with his host family for the return visit and Augirre said they will be hosting another performer with other host families this week.
Tickets for the family-oriented musical performances are $15 per person and are available from Up With People’s local sponsors including WOON Radio, ReMax Town & Country, The Valley Breeze, Chan’s Restaurant, Mount St. Charles Academy, and also from Cumberland Town Hall and all of the Cumberland PTOs, according to Augirre.
More information on the local Up With People schedule of activities or how to purchase tickets can be found upwithpeople.org. at
Cast members of Up With People stand in the gymnasium of the Cumberland High School Wellness Center on Monday night after they arrived from a long bus journey. They will perform two shows this week, this Friday and Saturday.
From left, cast members Luis Antonio Gonzalez, Hidde Meurs and Maya Henry are pictured.