Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation Command
The 2010 U.S. Army Soldier Show
An Army Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation Command program
The 2010 U.S. Army Soldier Show is a high-energy 90-minute live musical production that showcases the talents of active duty Soldiers who were selected by audition from throughout the Army. They are amateur artists who have a passion for music, dance and performing. They come from unit supply, medical and emergency, animal care, transportation and aviation, legal and law enforcement and other tactical units. The show is assembled in five weeks, and then tours for six months.
New cast members are selected each year. Aspiring Soldiers worldwide submit application packages that include videotapes, biographies, photographs, and letters of recommendation from their commanders. Soldiers must have an outstanding record in their units as well as demonstrate musicality, movement, stage presence, and versatility.
Soldier Show artistic staff, Army Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation Command directors, Soldier peers, and selected senior Army leaders form an audition panel that screens all entries. In addition to being scored by a panel of judges on showmanship, talent, and poise, the finalists must pass physical training and drug tests, uniform inspection and a dance audition. Audio and lighting technicians are selected based on their military and civilian theater experience and training, recommendations, and military record.
Once selected to the cast, the Soldiers are attached to FMWRC for duty with the U.S. Army Entertainment Division for the duration of the tour. The Soldier Show operates as a deployable military unit under the military leadership of the Army Entertainment Detachment’s first sergeant and under the artistic leadership of the Soldier Show’s artistic director.
Soldiers are expected to adhere to military physical fitness, deportment and appearance standards. Soldiers in the cast and crew are assigned specific military responsibilities and show duties commensurate with their rank in addition to their functions and responsibilities within the show, such as vocal director, dance captain, wardrobe/costume manager, technical crew chief and stage manager.
The new cast and technical crew spend six weeks at Fort Belvoir, Va., rehearsing under the direction of an artistic staff led by producer Johnny Stewart, production director Victor Hurtado, music director Joey Beebe, production manager Staff Sgt. Kevin Lynum and Broadway choreographer Tanya Gibson-Clark.
Twelve to 16-hour days begin with a military formation and include aerobic workouts, vocal coaching, dance training, and learning how to assemble and dismantle the stage trusses. The technical crew learns computer-based lighting and audio and video functions while designing the lighting, sound and special effects.
In addition to learning choreography, performers memorize as many as 40 songs, ranging from country, R&B, gospel, rock, oldies, soul, and patriotic songs combined in solos, duets, group and high-energy, fast-paced production numbers that make up the 90-minute show.
Once on the road, Soldiers work an average 14-hour day, seven days a week for seven months. Totally self-contained, the cast and crew offload, load, assemble, and dismantle 18 tons of equipment at each stop on the tour, including four miles of cable and 100 theatrical lights. During the tour, they will handle more than a million pounds of electrical, sound, stage and lighting gear. Some Soldiers have described it as their toughest duty outside of combat.
Military drivers with commercial licenses rotate shifts driving a 44-passenger bus, two 18-wheel tractor trailers, and a 15-passenger van to transport personnel, staff, costumes, and stage equipment to their stateside destinations.
The Soldier Show is not funded with taxpayer dollars, but with non-appropriated funds generated from business programs of Morale, Welfare and Recreation and with generous corporate sponsorship.