Soldier-entertainers' season finale rocks Warrior Country
December 1, 2010
CASEY GARRISON, South Korea - They could've simply called it a "wrap." But like Broadway performers, these entertainers from the 2010 U.S. Army Soldier Show brought incredible energy and passion to their 120th and final performance of the season.
Performing before a standing room only crowd of more than 1,000 at the Carey Physical Fitness Center here, they brought energy to their Thanksgiving show for the troops on Freedom's Frontier as if it was their first at Fort Belvoir, Va. eight months earlier.
The opening act unfolded with the sound of sirens reverberating off the walls. As the curtain lifted, entertainers attired in black cargo pants and boots and a heavy black and gold jacket erupted into Disturbed's "Indestructible" to open the fast-paced, high-energy 81-minute performance.
The highlights of the show were tributes to the founding father of Army entertainment - Irving Berlin - who was drafted into the Army during World War I and to the late "King of Pop" - Michael Jackson.
Using a social media interface as a transition, history about Berlin danced across the screen as if it were being typed on a personal computer.
As the curtain rose, Spc. Demetria Stewart and Pfc. Andrew Enriquez appeared as Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire from the 1935 movie, "Top Hat," gliding gracefully back and forth across the stage while singing Berlin's "Cheek to Cheek."
Within moments a drill sergeant dressed in World War I-era attire was admonishing troops for not sleeping. As Reveille sounded, they were all quick to formation except for Russian-born Israel Baline, aka Berlin. Roused from his bunk, Pfc. Frank DeLucca from Fort Bragg, N.C., burst into the Berlin classic, "Oh! How I Hate to Get Up in the Morning."
Several generations and genres later, the entertainers delighted the audience with an medley of Journey's "Don't Stop Believin'," Beyonce's "Halo," "I'm Walking on Sunshine" by Kristina and the Waves and the high energy Van Halen hit - "Jump" - its only composition to reach number one on the U.S. Billboard Top 100.
With the audience already near fever pitch, images of the "King of Pop" flashed across the screen as "Man in the Mirror" played. The tribute began with "ABC," "I Want You Back" and the much beloved, "I'll Be There" - hits from his early years with the Jackson 5.
And then it happened! He strode to the middle of the stage dressed in a white sequined shirt, black sequined jacket, black pants and loafers with a suitcase. Within seconds the black cashmere Fedora and silver rhinestone glove were ceremoniously adorned.
As the familiar syncopated beat of "Billie Jean" began vibrating off the walls, Sgt. Kevin Cherry from the 3rd Infantry Division Band at Fort Stewart, Ga. began to sing and gyrate to the moves of his idol including Jackson's moonwalk, which brought deafening applause.
"Many of you enjoyed a Thanksgiving dinner," said Maj. Gen. Michael S. Tucker, commanding general of the 2nd Infantry Division after the performance. "These great Soldiers here gave us a little bit more of America and their timing couldn't have been better."
Within minutes the curtain was brought down on the season as the entertainers marched smartly from the stage to "The Army Song" and a thunderous standing ovation.