BWW Feature: College of the Desert Alum Is Raising Funds to Perform in the Next UP WITH PEOPLE Tour
Alisha Bates, 26, a La Quinta resident, is planning to sing and dance from California to Europe, as part of the January 2019 UP WITH PEOPLE (UWP) six-month tour. She is currently trying to raise the final $3000 to pay the program's $17,450 tuition and expenses (plus transportation to Denver and back home from Europe, as well as incidental costs).
Alisha, who graduated from La Quinta High School in 2010 and the College of the Desert (COD) (with an Associate Degree for Transfer in Theatre Arts), is the daughter of Paula Bates, an accountant in Palm Desert, and the late Bobby Bates. Her mother told Broadway World in an email that Alisha was a music enthusiast from an early age - as soon as she was old enough to walk, Alisha would sing and dance to whatever music happened to be playing. She was active in school choirs from elementary school on up, played Annie in summer camp and, in middle school, asked to take singing lessons. Her mother made a deal with Alisha to take both piano and voice, to make sure she learned how to read music.
Except for a brief stint at California State University, Fullerton - which she left after her father, to whom she had been very close, passed away suddenly in 2012 - she has lived her entire life in the Coachella Valley. She told Broadway World that it is time to take what she called a "leap of faith" and enter into a "life-changing experience," which she hopes participating in UWP will be.
According to its Web site, the UP WITH PEOPLE charitable organization has served as exactly that kind of life-changing experience for its more than 22,000 graduates from approximately 130 countries in the fifty-something years it has been in operation. After a training stint in Colorado, the participants, who are ages 17 to 29, travel to cities in the United States, Mexico, and Europe, doing community service - such as stocking food banks, working in charitable thrift stores, and teaching other young people about leadership - and living with host families. In each city, they perform in a professionally-produced, two-hour musical concert that the Web site says is designed to "light up the stage with our message of hope and unity." The training and experiences are intended to help the members of the tour develop cultural awareness, interpersonal communication skills, leadership and group development, and global citizenship.
Alisha applied to UP WITH PEOPLE after one of UWP's alumni, Leslie Kleiman, a counselor Alisha knew from a dance camp for adults, told her UWP would be an excellent fit, both because of Alisha's abilities to sing and dance, and because of her ability to connect with other people. She was accepted into the program about a year ago and began searching for the money to attend.
When I asked Alisha what she hopes to learn from her participation in UP WITH PEOPLE, she said she is "really excited" about the chance to learn about other cultures. She also expects that the networking gained from the program will help her in her own career as well as allow her to discover opportunities that she may not yet know about for working in performing arts.
Fundraising has proven to be one of the more difficult parts of getting ready for the tour. Alisha is employed, but realized that she would have to raise money through additional means to be able to afford the program. She started a Go Fund Me page, as well as put on a cabaret a few weeks ago. However, she ruefully admits that she is no expert in publicity, and did not get the cabaret turnout for which she had hoped. Thanks in part to a scholarship, she is tantalizing close to her financial goal, but has only a few weeks left to achieve it.
Alisha, who is already an experienced singer, dancer, and actor in college and community theatre, has just concluded her final pre-tour show, THE SOUND OF MUSIC, at Desert Theatreworks, in Indio, where she starred as Maria. Before that, she played the baker's wife in the same company's production of INTO THE WOODS. In both cases, I glowingly reviewed her performance, and referred to her as "one of the most likely performers I know to make it to Broadway." In addition to these productions, she has also performed major roles in other Coachella Valley productions, including Rizzo in GREASE at Desert Theatreworks, Hodel in COD's production of FIDDLER ON THE ROOF, and Eponine in Palm Canyon Theatre's LES MISERABLES. She has won a Desert Theatre League award for her role as Belle in BEAUTY AND THE BEAST.
Lance Phillips-Martinez, artistic director of Desert Theatreworks, who has gotten to know Alisha through working with her on numerous shows, told Broadway World in an email that Alisha is "an absolute pleasure to work with." He adds that he has "seen her stretch herself as an actor, singer and dancer" in the past two years, and that she is "someone who I hope to see lighting the lights of Broadway soon." Her mother also shares the optimism that Alisha will succeed as a performing artist - Paula Bates says she believes that her daughter "will accomplish her dream" because Alisha "is extremely blessed with her vocal ability."
Unsurprisingly, Alisha hopes to perform in Broadway musicals and touring companies. She acknowledged, however, that, she would be willing work in television or film instead, although "where my heart is is in live theatre." She also mentioned that she might even decide to live overseas after seeing life in other countries through the UP WITH PEOPLE tour. "I like to see where life takes me," she said.
Donors may contribute to Alisha's fund-raising campaign through gofundme at www.gofundme.com/alishas-journey-to-inspire?fbclid=IwAR1XSThJtFw4onDS9_dVoKvxyKZnmsj03B8SknWtC1eYZI_MPlsaUqpo5o0. For more on UP WITH PEOPLE, see upwithpeople.org. For Broadway World's reviews of Alisha's performances in THE SOUND OF MUSIC and INTO THE WOODS, see www.broadwayworld.com/palm-springs/article/BWW-Review-Desert-Theatreworks-THE-SOUND-OF-MUSIC-is-Not-to-be-Missed-20181212 and www.broadwayworld.com/palm-springs/article/BWW-Review-DTWs-ITW-Merits-an-A-20181010.