By Tim Hipps, IMCOMMay 6, 2013
ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. - The 2013 U.S. Army Soldier Show launched with three performances before capacity crowds at Fort Sam Houston Theatre in April.
The show, "Ready and Resilient," soon will embark on a four-month tour of 27 installations across the nation, delivering messages to fellow troops that Army senior leaders consider essential.
The Soldier Show returns to APG with two free performances open to the public in June. General admission seating will be offered for the shows to be held 7 p.m., Sunday June 16 and 11:30 a.m., Monday, June 17 at the post theater.
The APG community is invited to come enjoy the family-friendly, high-energy, 90-minute live musical production. The tour features performances of today's hits, yesterday's classics and even original material. For more information, call 410-278-4011/4907 or visit www.apgmwr.com.
The effects of sequestration shortened this year's tour, but Army senior leaders decided the Soldier Show must go on
"Some may ask, 'Why are we doing this?'" said Tom Higdon, Soldier Show executive producer. "The answer is quite simple: We have the unique ability to tell this Army message and this Army story in a way that nobody else can. And our communities, their Soldiers and families, they deserve to hear this message and they need to hear this message, quite frankly.
"We need to continue to drive home the importance of sponsorship and intramural sports and SHARP [the Army's Sexual Harassment and Assault Response and Prevention program]. Even the finale, "Carry On," touches on the realities of suicide prevention and post-traumatic stress disorder and how important it is that you reach out to the person on your left and your right, whether you're in combat or back at home. … Everything in this show has something to give to everyone in the audience, and it's important that it's out there."
The Soldier Show features snippets of 30 to 40 songs packed into a production of rapidly changing song and dance representing nearly every genre of music. Higdon said the show has the "unique ability" to tell the Army story like no other Army program can.
"There's something about Soldiers being on a stage and relating to an audience in a very personable and one-on-one way about what is important to the Army, what makes the Army and Soldiers special. It's just different than anything else because it's a dialogue that really happens between a performer and an audience in a way more so than any other branding or marketing aspect that the Army has, at least in my opinion."
From the opening act of "Let's Go/Carry On," songs by Ne-Yo and Calvin Harris, the Soldier-performers exhibit the resilient spirit of continuing to strive regardless of obstacles, of always moving forward and never looking back, of camaraderie, courage, independence and sponsorship, Higdon said.
Performances include a mixture of Broadway and Disney with "Part of Your World" from The Little Mermaid, "Step in Time" from Mary Poppins, "The Bells of Notre Dame" from The Hunchback of Notre Dame, and "The Gospel Truth" from Hercules. It takes listeners on a journey from Brad Paisley's "Southern Comfort Zone" to "Dream On" by Aerosmith, then stands up for Army values and Gold and Blue Stars, with a touching rendition of "Bring Him Home" from Les Miserables.
The show deals with loss and sacrifice, all the while stressing that life goes on, and there will be time for R&R, Family and friends. It touches on Army intramurals and physical training -- having the heart of a champion and mastering one's own destiny, and covers the Army's Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention program with Aretha Franklin's "Think" and "R.E.S.P.E.C.T" and The Temptations' "Treat her like a Lady." Women in combat roles are saluted in the song "Freedom" by Anthony Hamilton and Elayna Boynton.
Tributes during the show include the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation, the 75th anniversary of "God Bless America," the 60th anniversary of the Korean War armistice, and the 50th anniversary of the start of the Vietnam War.
The goal of the show is to deliver the messages loudly, clearly, proudly, and in entertaining fashion, Higdon said.
"It's a challenge. Everybody has their own ideas of how to make it work. It's very collaborative. It's very give-and-take. It's not just a one-person vision kind of thing. We throw all the crazy ideas out there and all the bad ideas out there and somehow sift through that and figure out the best way to present it."
Higdon has been around the Soldier Show for 25 years -- on the stage, behind the curtains, and in front of the house.
"This year, more so than ever, we were able to really take that guidance and put together something that the Army would be proud of," he said. "That's ultimately the task of this team. It's not our show. It's the Army's show. We may have titles and we may have roles that we play in putting this thing together, but in no way do we have ownership of it. It's the Army's show and the Army's message. The entire team just feels very privileged to have the honor to help put it together."
"We were given the guidance and we met the challenge, and we've got a product the Army can be proud of."