Up With People, the world-renowned group of performers who look to bridge cultural barriers with song while serving the communities in which they perform, will prepare for its international show in Southwest Florida.
And their first two shows on a six-month, worldwide tour will be held in North Fort Myers.
The 120-person ensemble from 20 countries will be hosted by the Lee County Alliance for the Arts when it arrives Feb. 11. The performers, who have been doing staging for their show in Lakeland, will stay with host families and volunteer in the community before performing two shows at North Fort Myers High School on Feb. 17.
The shows will kick off a six-month world tour through seven countries in North America and Europe.
"We're going to travel from here to Orlando, Vero Beach, then two cities in Georgia before going to Europe," said Lorna Murphy, from Ireland, of the troupe's advance team. "They'll finish in June."
The advance team arrived last week to begin preparation for the cast and to do volunteer work.
Up with People is a global education and service program focused on bringing the world together through service and music.
The students are between the ages of 18 and 29, and have all graduated high school. Murphy said about the only requirement they need is to have the ability to speak conversational English, and not necessarily acting or singing.
"It's not required to have performing arts talent. In Lakeland they're doing staging where they learn the show and find their talent," Murphy said, "We have a very high standard for this show."
Murphy added they are also their own "roadies," setting up and breaking down the stage.
When they arrive in the area they will live with local host families, volunteer in the local community at the Harry Chapin Food Bank and other charitable organizations, rehearse and perform two shows at North Fort Myers High School.
The Alliance and Up With People are always looking for host families, since the cast usually stays in an area for a week, and the cast doesn't necessarily need an extra room, Murphy said.
She also said securing the host families is the biggest hurdle the organization has.
"That's how our organization has survived is through the good people in the areas we go to," Murphy said. "It can be floor space or pillows and mats."
Tickets for the show are $15 for adults and $10 for students, seniors & children. They can be purchased online at www.upwithpeople.org/fortmyers or at the Alliance.
Up with People has performed in more than 100 countries and have entertained presidents and popes, as well as provide halftime entertainment at numerous Super Bowls.