FORT BELVOIR, Va., May 3, 2011 -- Wallace Theater was packed this weekend as the U.S. Army Soldier Show kicked off its 2011 tour at Fort Belvoir, Va.

This year's theme is "Carnival - A Traveling Thank You," according to director Johnny Stewart. Over the course of the 90-minute show, 20 Soldiers selected from units around the world sing, dance and entertain. Rather than a standard contemporary production, this year's show draws its inspiration and song selections from many areas of the world.

Stewart says it's all in an effort to boost morale as they tour the world.

Paulette and Carlton Freese have regularly attended the Soldier Show during its 28 years in production. "They outdid themselves," said Paulette. "Every year it's better than the year before."

"This is the best show that they've put on yet," added Carlton.

Last year, Cpl. Jeremy Gaynor participated as a cast member. He now serves as a production assistant and as the "Ring Master" for the 2011 show.

"People were pretty excited," he said. "It was definitely a good audience, good energy from the performers [and] just an overall good show."

Maj. Gen. Reuben Jones, commanding general of the Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation Command, watched the production Saturday night. According to Jones, the show is even more impressive when one considers the short time frame that the Soldiers had to pull it all together.

"I have seen a lot of Soldier Shows. Without a doubt, the Soldiers brought out their best in this opening performance," he said. "If you missed this show, you missed a lot."

Continuing the show's mantra of "Entertainment for the Soldier, by the Soldier," the cast and crew will seek out servicemembers to audition for the 2012 show as they tour installations throughout America, Germany and Korea this year.

The tour will conclude Dec. 10, 2011, at Fort Sam Houston, Texas.

The Army Entertainment Division, which is responsible for the Soldier Show, will soon be doing some traveling of its own. The division, along with the rest of FMWRC, is relocating from Fort Belvoir to a new headquarters within the Installation Management Command at Fort Sam Houston, Texas.

The historic theater on Fort Sam Houston is currently being renovated to house the Army Entertainment Division. When complete, Building 2270, the 800-seat Fort Sam Houston Theatre, will include more room for lighting and sound equipment as well as an 80-foot "fly-tower" to accommodate the raising and lowering of stage sets. The theater will also include office space, while preserving the historic nature of the 86-year-old structure.

For the complete Soldier Show schedule, visit ArmyEntertainment.net.

(Rob McIlvaine from ARNEWS contributed to this report.)

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16