Soldier Show 2012 entertains Wiregrass
May 10, 2012
FORT RUCKER, Ala. (May 10, 2012) -- In the words of a cast member, the 2012 U.S. Army Soldier Show is "top to bottom, 100 percent a Soldier Show." It's for Soldiers, about Soldiers and produced by Soldiers.
Hundreds of people from Fort Rucker and the surrounding communities attended the 90-minute Broadway-style show May 6 at the Ozark Civic Center. The show featured songs and dance from a variety of musical genres including country, gospel, pop, rap, hip hop, swing and more.
"This year's program was really designed to showcase the adaptability, resilience and warrior ethos of our Army," said Kimberly Abeln, Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation annual events coordinator. "This year's cast did a wonderful job bringing that message to the forefront."
Second Lt. Daniel Monplaisir, a cast member who is assigned to a National Guard unit in Tallassee, Ala., said the Soldier Show would probably be the highlight of his theater career because of who sits in the audience.
"There's no better audience I would want to entertain than fellow Soldiers," he said. "Any performance I do is about giving people a break from real life, but giving Soldiers and Families a break from the stress of military life -- it doesn't get better than that."
Monplaisir said the cast and crew had endured 2 ½ months of 12- to 14-hour days to prepare for the tour.
Songs were written and recorded from scratch. The creative process included people across the country -- from Washington, D.C., to Los Angeles, added visual content manager Sgt. Drake DeLucca, who is originally from Phenix City, Ala.
"We find the most talented people in the Army and we borrow them from their units," DeLucca said. "We assemble them and then create a show around their talents, then take them around the world to entertain Soldiers and their Families."
In the theatrical world, it's called a workshopping process, Monplaisir explained. With a traditional play or musical, potential cast members audition for specific roles, but the Soldier Show is more of a "this is what we have and this is what we can make of it" production.
"We have dancers that are excellent this year so we have routines that are geared toward showcasing their dancing talent," Monplaisir said.
One of the more energetic dance routines was based on physical training exercises and started with a variation of "It's the Hard-Knock Life." Other songs included scenes from a news report, references to deployments and military children, living life to the fullest and leaving for basic training.
One chorus that was repeated several times throughout the performance emphasized the "Army Strong" theme with the lyrics, "Makes me that much stronger. Makes me work a little bit harder. Makes me that much wiser. Thanks for making me a fighter."
"With the Army putting on something like this, it shows they really care about Soldiers," Monplaisir said. "A lot of times, you have the mentality that the Army's tough and big and brutal but it is stuff like this that shows the Army cares and it really touches people."
Roscoe Kahumoki, a retired Air Force captain, said he saw a Soldier Show several years ago and it was "really exciting," so he wanted to come to this one.
"Soldiers seem to put on one of the best entertainment shows and retirees really appreciate it," he added.
Staff Sgt. Armando Saria, C Company, 1st Batallion, 13th Aviation Regiment, was at the show to help the crew tear down the stage. He said he thought the show was a big morale booster for new Soldiers because everything was Army-related.
"I've seen a whole lot of Soldier Shows and this is the best one I've seen," said Maj. Gen. Anthony G. Crutchfield, U.S. Army Aviation Center of Excellence and Fort Rucker commanding general, after the performance. "It's the first Soldier Show I've seen that truly is a Soldier show. The branding was very obvious and it made me proud to be a Soldier."
The Soldier Show was at Fort Stewart, Ga., May 8 and will be at Fort Bragg N.C. on May 11.