Up With People, a troupe of more than 200 young performers from 14 countries, is everything one would expect--fine family entertainment, full of youthful energy and corny as can be. It also happens to be very uplifting.
Last night's two-hour revue at the Kennedy Center Concert Hall, accompanied by the National Symphony Orchestra, contained enough nonsaccharine sweetness and cheer to wear down the most sour skeptic.
The well-written production, a vigorously paced melange of traditional folk songs and dances and contemporary pop numbers, consisted of equal parts Lawrence Welk show, high school musical, Walt Disney travelogue and Mitch Miller singalong. The audience had no choice but to get involved, as the cast constantly bounded up and down the aisles, shaking hands, cheerleading and coaxing people from their seats and onto the stage.
The troupe frequently slipped in an inspirational number between production numbers, and these were some of the best. The female soloists on "Sometimes You Never Know" and "Can We Sing a Song of Peace?" delivered their numbers with as much professional style as any singer with a hit on the current pop charts. It's a shame they weren't identified.
The National Symphony Orchestra, ably led by conductor Andrew Litton, 24, was relegated mostly to orchestral fills and flourishes, and it was often hard to find them behind the amplified voices and colorfully costumed dancers.