By Nancy Gould, Hunter Public AffairsSeptember 26, 2008
FORT STEWART, GA -- Performing in the U.S. Army Soldier is rewarding but tough work, according to Spc. Marlaina Cutter, the dental assistant who left her job at Fort Stewart in January to travel the world in the 90-minute production called the Soldier Show.
She and 13 other Soldiers danced and sang songs ranging from country, R&B, gospel and rock oldies, soul, patriotic songs combined in solos, duets, group and high-energy, fast-paced numbers for more than 500 Family Members, Soldiers, retirees and public at large at Hunter Army Airfield who came to watch them at Tominac Fitness Center on Sept. 17. The show's theme, "For the Soldier, by the Soldier," reflects on their love of country, courage and their passionate desire to uplift the morale of fellow Soldiers.
Members of the Savannah community, as well as area veterans, such as Jim Quirk from the Sun City retirement community in Hilton Head, S.C., came to enjoy the patriotic production. "It was fantastic," Quirk said, vowing to attend next year's show.
Jo Kramer, an Army spouse and the Hunter housing mayor was impressed with the musical. "It was inspiring," she said. "Tonight my husband Shaun and I brought our kids, Preston and Reiley (two and three years old respectively) and they loved it."
Cutter said that the positive reaction from Soldiers and their Family Members has been the best part of her nine-month commitment to the show.
"It's a great feeling to see Soldiers enjoying the performance," she said.
Cutter said the toughest part of her commitment is the grueling road schedule, which includes offloading stage equipment from two 18-wheel tractor trailers that accompany the group and setting up the equipment at each location they perform. The extra activity involves at least four to five hours of tough physical work.
To alleviate stress, the group squeezes in palates and yoga workouts daily. On performance nights, their schedules also include an intense two-hour rehearsal.
"We're on auto-pilot out here," Cutter said about her long days that often include 10 to 12 hours of road travel. "This life gives you a whole lot of twists and turns." This past July, Sutter left her daily companions for an 11-day hiatus to her mom's home in North Carolina to enjoy a routine regiment of rest, sleep and some of her mother's home cooked dinners.
The 25-year-old Soldier said touring with the show has a multitude of perks. She's performed in various states, as well as Germany and Belgium, and taken in as much of the culture at each location that her schedule has allowed.
She started singing at age four and more recently competed in Operation Rising Star, another U.S. Army Entertainment program. As a Soldier Show performer, Cutter has also tasted stardom, without all the glamour, and experienced life as a performer, something she may want to pursue for her future.
If you're a Soldier with talent and are interested in auditioning for next year's program, the requirements are listed on-line at www.armymwr.com/portal/recreation/entertainment/armysoldiershow.
If you missed Hunter's Soldier Show, future performances are scheduled at Fort Stewart, 7 p.m., Sept. 25 at Newman Fitness Center.