Performer encourages local students to chase their dreams

January 10, 2018 GMT

BULLHEAD CITY — Tony Pace took a roomful of students on a musical journey Tuesday morning, and hoped to inspire each to the next point on his or her own personal journey.

Pace presented a special show for students at the Mohave High School auditorium, in advance of his Colorado River Concert Association performance that night.

His act included dancing, comedy and plenty of singing, both of songs the young audience members knew well, such as Bruno Mars’ “The Lazy Song,” as well as classics new to many of the students, such as the show opener, “Soul Man,” originally performed by Sam & Dave.

Right from the start, Pace had the audience participate, asking them to wave their hands for a bit of “Hot Hot Hot!” and bringing a volunteer on stage to lead a “Day-O” sing-along.

Pace has been entertaining for more than 40 years, but joked that his helper, a veteran of less than a minute, was better at it.

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After sparse applause when Pace asked how many had seen him perform before, he joked that his time in the craft had been wasted, but then explained that it wasn’t wasted because it was time spent following his dream.

A recurring theme of the show was that everyone should pursue his or her dreams and never stop.

“No matter what you do in life,” Pace said. “If you do it with all your passion and with all your heart, you will succeed.”

He said that William Hung, a one-time “American Idol” contestant remembered for an off-key performance of Ricky Martin’s “She Bangs,” was blasted as having no talent, but never gave up.

“He went after stardom, and is still performing today,” Pace said.

Pace won sustained applause during a segment on dance crazes that included “Achy Breaky Heart,” “Gagnam Style,” and “U Can’t Touch This,” the latter complete with Pace moving across the stage in a crablike “Hammer dance.”

He said afterward that he’d hoped to introduce the students to new favorites.

Some spectators already knew Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline,” and most were able to quickly learn their part (a strategically timed “hey!) for Gary Glitter’s “Rock and Roll Part 2.” The former got a slight reprise at one audience member’s request.

Pace showed off more dance skills after donning a black fedora and sunglasses for a Michael Jackson medley that included “Thriller” and “Billie Jean.”

His 1980s segment also included numbers by Prince and Culture Club.

Pace then brought up two volunteers to lead the audience through the hand motions needed for Shel Silverstein’s “The Unicorn.”

Pace urged the students to leave their comfort zones. He said later that he’d feel he accomplished something if the students left the show feeling they could reach their goals.

“So many times we fail because we’re afraid,” Pace said. “If they can see something in what I’m doing and get excited for themselves, that’s a great thing for me.”

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Before closing with “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You,” he said students should never be afraid to try things that interest them.

Pace hosted a question-and-answer session after the show, during which he shared these and other tidbits.

Everyone gets nervous before going onstage, but a performer can use that nervous energy to his benefit.Dance moves are best learned by performing them in front of a mirror, and refined on stage. Pace said once the mechanics are in place, the dancer will figure out the finesse of a routine by going through it live.Scales and sight-reading are key practice tools for musicians.Pace’s performing career began with an appearance in “Oliver!” as a sixth-grader.The shows are largely improvised. Pace’s wife, Nancy, takes visual cues from what he tells the audience to start the music for the coming song or routine.

Eevie Wilson, a fifth-grader at Mohave Accelerated Elementary School, said she liked the funny parts of the show and that “Sweet Caroline” was her favorite part.

“I thought it was really awesome that he followed his dreams,” said MAES fifth-grader Bryanna Nunez, who added that Pace inspired in her more confidence in her ability to achieve what she wants.

MHS senior Daniel Vega enjoyed it and said he planned to recommend the evening’s public show to people he knows.

“It was vibrant, energetic and eccentric,” Vega said. “I know people will enjoy it.”

Pace’s tour moves next to Lake Havasu City and continues through the spring.

The next Colorado River Concert series event is March 20 and features musical comedy team Duo Baldo. Tickets are $25 ($5 for students younger than 18, with ID).