Encore Spring 2017

Young Ambassadors

Brazil’s Diversity

Young Ambassadors members Jessica Jensen and Carlos Garcia perform in “Circle of Life,” from The Lion King.

Young Ambassadors will take its 2017 extended tour to Brazil beginning on April 29. The troupe will start in Manaus, a city located up north in the state of Amazonas, which encompasses much of the Amazon rainforest. After Manaus, the group will travel east to the coast and will perform in Belém, Fortaleza, Recife, Salvador, and Rio de Janeiro and conclude their tour in São Paulo.

The members of Young Ambassadors are excited for this opportunity to serve, learn, and share their talents. “Each touring experience is unique,” says Young Ambassadors performer Taylor Stanger. “We are given the amazing opportunity to meet and serve so many people no matter where we travel.”

Cooper Sutton displays tap dancing skills in Young Ambassadors’ rendition of the famous number “Singin’ in the Rain.”

Stanger and the other Portuguese-speaking cast member, Scott Hendrickson, served a two-year mission in Brazil while representing The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. “I already know that this will be an emotional experience—returning to the country I served in to perform for the people I grew to love,” Stanger says. “Scott and I will be doing a lot of translating both ways. Knowing the culture and language also helps in forming strong bonds with anyone we come in contact with. Any effort to understand someone’s culture or way of life is appreciated and shows that we care.”

Young Ambassadors will be premiering its new show, Welcome Home, in another country for the first time. Welcome Home presents the magic and surprise of growing up, the adventure of learning, and the warm feelings that only home brings. This musical revue has stellar Broadway show tunes, including songs from Hamilton, Footloose, Singin’ in the Rain, In the Heights, The Lion King, and much more. “The talent and energy in the Young Ambassadors shows have always come through, but the new show brings an additional spiritual element to it,” says Hendrickson. “In [Welcome Home], we all play a major role in transmitting the message and telling a story. There is not one person more important than the others in the show.”

The year’s theme for Young Ambassadors is “Live to Give.” Alongside their eight performances, the group will provide community outreaches and service to the locals of the cities they visit. This service will include performing in public schools, working with Mormon Helping Hands, and donating food to low-income hospitals. “Every moment from sunrise to well after sunset [will be] dedicated to the communities in which we serve,” Stanger says. “Each day [will be] filled with several cultural outreaches, service projects, hospital visits, orphanage visits, firesides, and more—all before we perform our show once or even twice that evening.”

The group will also have opportunities to meet other artists and learn more about the country. In the city of Salvador, Young Ambassadors will meet with Olodum, a group that performs in one of the blocks for Salvador’s carnival. Olodum fights social discrimination, builds the self-esteem of Afro-Brazilians, and promotes civil-rights equality. Olodum’s band has performed with national and international musicians, including Michael Jackson in his music video “They Don’t Care About Us.” They also have a school and a theater. Olodum will teach Young Ambassadors music and dances that are traditional parts of the diverse culture of Brazil. “The objective of the tour is to do as much good as possible,” says artist manager Shane Wright. “No matter what we do though, we will learn a lot more from the Brazilian people than we will be able to teach.”

Additionally, Young Ambassadors will have the chance to explore some of Brazil’s natural wonders. In the city of Manaus, they will tour by boat the Rio Negro of the Amazon rainforest, and in Rio de Janeiro they will visit the famous Pão de Açucar (Sugarloaf Mountain) and the Christ the Redeemer statue. “The natural beauty of Brazil is unparalleled,” says Hendrickson. “Brazil is such a diverse country in and of itself, and there are cultures there that I have only heard about.”

Members of Young Ambassadors say they are most excited about the people, food, and art that they will encounter. Hendrickson explains, “There is an underlying passion in everything [Brazilian people] do. And that passion and love of life can be felt the minute you step foot in the country.”