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Up with People

Up with People comes to Billings for performances on Sept. 9 and 10. Former Billings alumni are bringing the global musical ambassadors back to town for the first time in three years.

Up with People will perform two shows at the Alberta Bair Theater on Sept. 9 and Sept. 10 at 7:30 p.m.

The performances will include members of the international group who come from a variety of different countries.

Forty-two Billings students traveled with Up with People between 1988 and 2013. These alumni, along with the Billings Kiwanis and Montana State University Billings, are bringing Up with People back in the Billings community three years after their last show in town.

Each performer's first-time interaction with Up with People happened in different places. Some went to a show as a kid, others saw the group on a college campus and interviewed at the admissions booth.

Hannah Reno, who toured with the group in 2000, heard about Up with People in high school, and Chuck Barthuly, who toured in 1984, found out about the program when his family hosted a student when he was a kid.

Today, the show is called “The Journey” because Up with People will travel through time, around the world and through humanity.

They are traveling through time because the show contains songs from the '60s to today’s modern pop songs. It's around the world because the company makes up a group of 104 participants from 21 countries that travels the globe. The humanity reference is because the songs include messages from global leaders, such as Nelson Mandela.

Reno and Barthuly emphasized how this journey has forever changed their lives.

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“Developing relationships with my castmates and host families taught me a level of kindness, cultural awareness, and love for people that I would have never been able to experience otherwise,” Reno said. “I made friends from around the world. Friends that I still speak to 17 years later.”

One of Barthuly’s most memorable times was when his host family in Wiesbaden, Germany took them to their local hangout places and learning about the German culture.

“The world is a very small place and we have more similarities than differences with people from around the world,” Barthuly said.

Visit www.upwithpeople.org for more information about the program. Tickets are available for purchase at www.upwithpeople.org/billings.

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Entertainment Reporter

Jaci Webb covers entertainment for The Billings Gazette.