Soldier Show lights up Timmermann Center
Spc. Genesis Rodriguez, Army Soldier Show performer, leads a chorus of cast members during the 2012 Army Soldier Show here May 22. All performers are active-duty Soldiers from different Army units all over the world. The 20-member team performs more than 80 shows at more than 50 U.S. and overseas locations throughout the tour season. (U.S. Air Force photo by Bill Addison/Released)
by Bill Addison
Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst Public Affairs
5/24/2012 - JOINT BASE MCGUIRE-DIX-LAKEHURST, N.J. -- The 2012 U.S. Army Soldier's Show entertained a crowd of service members and their families May 22 at the Timmermann Center here.
The 90-minute show brought the emotional, mental, physical, spiritual and family pillars of military life to the stage, demonstrating the 2012 tour's "Army Strong" theme.
"That is in line with the chief of staff's motto for this year, which is, 'The strength of our nation is our Army, the strength of our Army is our Soldiers, the strength of our Soldiers is our families; and that's what makes us Army Strong," said production manager and producer Tim Higdon. "So the show is designed to follow that theme, and to highlight the strength aspect all the way through."
All performers are active-duty Soldiers from different Army units all over the world. They perform an integrated, high-energy ensemble production, offering a wide range of popular music and stage spectacle for service members and their families worldwide.
New to this year's show was a state-of-the-art, high-resolution light-emitting diode, commonly referred to as LED, video wall - 13 feet tall by 28 feet wide - featuring photographs of Army life on a virtual backdrop revolving from scene to scene and song to song.
Army Reserve Sgt. Melissa Neal, winner of the 2011 Operation Rising Star military singing contest, made a taped appearance, joined by The Soldier Show cast to sing "Hallelujah," which she performed during OPERATION Rising Star finals week in San Antonio.
In attendance were Army Staff Sergeants Keith and Irena Witherspoon, who brought their children along to watch the show.
"It's nice to see another side of your warrior citizenship, to be able to come out and be entertained by your fellow Soldiers," said Irena, a cadre member at the Warrior Transition Unit. "It's great that our service members have an opportunity to come out with their families and their co-workers and be entertained without having to leave the installation."
For her husband Keith, a 7301st Medical Training Support Battalion noncommissioned officer, it was great opportunity to spend time with his family.
"It's a good opportunity for my kids to see a different side of the military, other than us just going to work every day. I think they really liked seeing the different things that we do," he said.
The event was a first for John G. Anthony of Browns Mills, N.J., who attended as a guest of a service member.
"This was my first Soldier's show, and it was excellent; outstanding," he said.
The modern version of the U.S. Army Soldier Show originated in 1983 as an outgrowth of several shows existing in various Army commands, with Soldier talent selected from worldwide competition, according to the Soldier Show's website.
The motto, mission and philosophy of the show - "Entertainment for the Soldier, by the Soldier" - were established during World War I by Sgt. Israel Beilin, a Russian immigrant better known as Irving Berlin. He conceived and directed the first Army Soldier Show, "Yip Yip Yaphank," which appeared on Broadway in 1918.
The U.S. Army Soldier Show was reinvented during World War II on Broadway under the title "This is the Army," which was written, directed and produced by Berlin. The cast and crew were members of U.S. Army Special Services Company No. 1. The 1943 film version featured a military cast starring Ronald Reagan, Gene Kelly and Joe Lewis.
One goal of the U.S. Army Soldier Show is to promote resiliency by giving fellow troops an opportunity to unwind, relax and re-evaluate the world in which they live, along with the way of life that they defend. And how they do it: Army Strong.
Visit www.armymwr.com/recleisure/entertainment/soldiershow/default.aspx for more information.