By Eric Cramer, Rock Island Arsenal Garrison Public AffairsJune 12, 2009
The 2009 edition of The U.S. Army Soldier show brought nearly 3,000 people to the i-wireless Center May 20, according to figures from Rock Island Arsenal. A total of 2,968 people attended the variety show performance by serving Soldiers in the United States Army.
"This is just an outstanding opportunity for us to give back to the Quad Cities," said Rock Island Arsenal Garrison Manager Joel Himsl. "This is a perfect end to the outpouring of community support we received from Military Appreciation Week here in the Quad Cities."
This year's show "Lights! Camera! Action!" attempted to give the audience a behind-the-scenes look of a simulated live television broadcast. After breaks in the show, cast members gave the audience a simulated countdown to going "back on-the-air," in "five, four, three, two, one" before the beginning of a new set of numbers.
"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.
"I thought, what's going to be an exciting piece for the audience. Wouldn't it be cool to call it 'Lights! Camera! Action!' bring that feeling to the audience," Hurtado said.
Kathrine Schaeffer, an Army Specialist, was a performer in the 2008 edition of the show. This year, she was a lighting technician for the performance. She said she learned lighting techniques while working with the show last year. "I got to the point where I liked it so much more than actually performing," Schaeffer said. "It's a lot of work to be a performer, a LOT of work. I don't know that I could do it all over again."
Sgt. Maj. Tammy Coon, senior enlisted advisor for Soldier entertainment programs, is a native of Galesburg, Ill., and relished her return to the Quad Cities area. She said the Army's anti-sexual assault program known as "I. A.M. Strong" - the first three letters stand for "intervene," "act," and "motivate," was the military sponsor for the show.
"It's a very motivated and robust program where we're trying to get the message out on a peer-to-peer basis so those sort of things don't happen in our military. It's a deterrent to make certain sexual assault doesn't happen in our ranks," Coon said.
I. A.M. Strong videos aired during breaks in the performance, and its logos and images showed on the i-wireless Center's video ribbon during the performance.
He said he recommends the Soldiers who devote six months to the tour look at it as a developmental opportunity.
The show featured 15 U.S. Army Soldiers who performed a variety of musical and dance numbers.
When the Soldier Show rolls into a location, almost regardless of where it is, each show is highly anticipated.
The show opened 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 featured 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 - graced the stage of the 2009 U.S. Army Soldier Show during the 90-minute theatrical concert production.
Soldier-performers wore 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 performed 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 was also 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."
This article contains information provided by Tim Hipps, (Family and MWR Command).