By Tim HippsApril 17, 2009
FORT BELVOIR, Va. Aca,!" Lights! Camera! Action!
That's the theme of the 2009 U.S. Army Soldier Show, scheduled to open April 24 at 7:30 p.m. at Wallace Theater on Fort Belvoir, Va., with a Sunday matinee set for 2 p.m. April 26.
"The audience is going to have the rare experience of feeling and being in a live television studio, including commercial breaks," said Soldier Show production director Victor Hurtado, who spent much of the past year working on TV productions "Nashville Star," "America's Got Talent," "Clash of the Choirs," and country performing artist Michael Peterson's "My Real Life - Strong For America Tour," presented by the U.S. Army.
"Some of that comes from some of the experiences I've had this last year with network television, and just realizing what a great experience these audiences have and how the set changes are part of what makes it kind of cool before you go back on the air," Hurtado explained. "At the end of the day, an artistic director is just a vessel responsible for experiencing as much as he can and putting it into a product.
"The planets have aligned," Hurtado said - just in time for "entertainment for the Soldier, by the Soldier," the working motto of Army Entertainment Division, to embark on a 6 A,A1/2-month tour with more than 100 performances on 46 installations, including stops in Hawaii, Korea and the storied Warner Theatre in Washington.
The show will open with Kirk Franklin's upbeat "Declaration [This is It!]," co-written by Kenny Loggins and Michael McDonald, which addresses survival of the everyday trials and tribulations through a positive declaration of one's purpose in life.
"It makes use of the tune of Kenny Loggins' "This is It," Hurtado said. "But it has been completely redone in a very inspirational way."
Another scene features the new retro sounds of Duffy's "Mercy," Dominican Juan Luis Guerra's "La Llave de Mi Corazon," which translates in English to "Key to my Heart," and "I Decided," by Solange Knowles, younger sister of Beyonce.
"It has a little bit of English, a little bit of rap, it's all meringue - so it moves," Hurtado said. "There are also some really cool Kanye West and Rhianna numbers, with black lights and interesting drums - a lot of visuals."
A lot of dance, rap, English R&B, visuals, patriotic tunes, movement, love of country - even a roller skater - will grace the stage of the 2009 U.S. Army Soldier Show during the 90-minute theatrical concert production.
Soldier-performers will wear traditional attire from India during "Jai Ho," a soundtrack piece from "Slumdog Millionaire," the 2008-09 Oscar Award-winning best motion picture of the year.
The Soldiers will perform Frankie Smith's 1981 funk song, "Double Dutch Bus," while playing the streets of Philadelphia-acclaimed jump rope game on stage. Raven-Symone covered the tune in 2008 and it was released to promote the film "College Road Trip." There also will be a throw forward to modernized versions of more '80s hits, complete with choreography and costuming reminiscent of the "Solid Gold" television show.
For the finale, the troops combined "The Warrior's Anthem," by Michael Peterson, with the late Robert Humphreys' "Warrior's Creed," and put it to music.
"It's a combination of that and a song called "Make Them Hear You," Hurtado said. "It's a declaration of being heard."
That, in itself, is the director's goal for the Soldiers' show.
"I'm an artistic person by nature," said Hurtado, who during the past year founded Martenvee Media to help expand the entertainment horizon for enlisted troops who aspire to perform. "Just being able to focus on that, and to work from the stage back, is where I'm most comfortable, especially in working with the music.
"This is basically writing an hour-and-a-half record with feet and hands and clothes and hearts - and a roller skater this time. I'm really an artist at heart, although I have an organized side of myself that comes in handy.
"Either way, I answer to the same boss: the Soldiers in the show."