Army Entertainment: The Soldier Show experience
May 31, 2011
EACH year, 14 to 18 active-duty and reserve-component Soldiers are selected to serve as cast members of the U.S. Army Soldier Show.
With more than 100 performances at 54 installations across the globe, the Soldier Show is an annual song-and-dance production presented by Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation Command’s Army Entertainment Division.
“We travel with lighting, video, tractor trailers,” said John Stewart, the show’s director. “It is a full-scale production on the level of any professional travelling show. The only thing is, Soldiers are putting on the show.”
The ability to sing and dance is only part of the qualification criteria.
Cast members must represent the Army well in appearance, fitness and bearing, said Stewart, who has been with the Soldier Show since 2007, serving as the noncommissioned officer in charge from 2007 to 2008, and as the director since 2009.
“It is a reward and a privilege for a Soldier to participate in the Soldier Show,” said Stewart. “Units only allow their best Soldiers to come and represent them. I expect these Soldiers to give a 100-percent effort. We don’t expect them to know everything. All we need is a Soldier who has a desire and is willing to commit to putting in the required time. Our staff will get them to where they need to be.”
Soldier Show cast members can expect to work seven days a week starting in late February until the first show in late April or early May, said Stewart. Actual performance time is about 190 hours, technical time about 600 hours and rehearsal time about 576 hours.
“You take all of these requirements, and our average work week is around 72 hours,” said Stewart. “It’s a lot of hard work, but it’s one of the most gratifying experiences in the Army because you are touching people’s lives.”
With so many shows and locations, life on the road with the Soldier Show is a fast-paced experience.
“The Soldiers all travel together on a bus, sometimes covering up to 500 miles a day,” said Stewart. “They room together throughout the tour, so camaraderie and teamwork is something we stress.”
While the 2011 season is currently underway, the next season is just around the corner, and it is never too early to apply. Application deadline for the Soldier Show is typically in January, but recruiting efforts are year-round.
“We are constantly recruiting for the next year,” said Stewart. “We are always looking for talented Soldiers. We have even auditioned people at shows (while on tour).”
Soldiers interested in auditioning should submit their application packet before the January deadline. Details can be found at www.armymwr.com under the “Entertainment” tab. Qualified Soldiers can also contact the Soldier Show director by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.