Sunday, October 5, 2008


It turns out that its quite difficult for most people to pronounce our first city back in the US, Sahuarita AZ. This community in the midst of the largest pecan grove in the United States is about 45 minutes south of Tucson. We had our first day of school projects, with this cast's debut of the Stand for Peace program. They taught two 1.5 hour classes and performed a mini-show in the afternoon. It was a huge learning curve, as your first child audience always is, but most people loved it and are excited to do it again (which is good because at least three more of our US cities have this program as part of our community impact.)
We also had a really wonderful evening at an independent living community for seniors called La Posada. They hosted a barbecue where we were the food line crew and wait staff, and after we had served our tables, then we sat down and ate with them. We thought it was going to be burgers and brats, but our meal turned out to be roast beef and a skewer of shrimp, rice pilaf, salad with berries and greens, and New York cheesecake topped with bananas foster. It was quite possibly the fanciest dinner we've had on the road, and it was a pleasure to chat with the residents of La Posada. They were so appreciative and friendly, and many came to our show (even though they usually don't like to drive in the dark).

The show day was also incredible--- being so close to Tucson, which was UWP's headquarters for over 25 years, there is a lot of history here. The original UWP musicians, the Colwell Brothers and Herb Allen, all in their 80s, joined the cast onstage towards the end of the show and played a few songs. Herb Allen is the most incredible xylophone player I have ever seen. It is such an honor for the cast to be able to perform with them and to experience live that part of UWP's legacy. We also had lots of guests from Europe who were wanting to see how the "new" Up with People was working, and they ate dinner with the cast before the show. We had to have special security in place because a prince from the Netherlands was in attendance, Peter Von Vollenhoven, who is also a famous pianist and produced the well-loved UWP album, "The Dutch Touch."

Much of this week was a blur to me though, as I was incredibly sick for a few days. I was a walking zombie on the show day, and laid in bed for literally all of our free day... luckily I was in the hotel and not a host family, as I would have been an antisocial, grumpy mess. There's nothing worse than being sick on the road- usually my body doesn't allow it, but I think it held together for the whole Mexican tour, and figured that when we got back to the US it could finally relax. No such luck. Thankfully, I'm almost back to normal, with just a little cough lagging behind.

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