VICENZA, Italy - A Soldier with U.S. Army Health Clinic Vicenza was recently recognized for years of contributions to the Soldiers’ Theatre at U.S. Army Garrison Italy.
Sgt. Martin Sinlao, noncommissioned officer in charge of Radiology Services at USAHC-V, was presented a National Spotlight Award from an American community theater organization, demonstrating the hard work and service Sinlao has invested in the theater arts.
“The Spotlight Award for Outstanding Volunteer Support recognizes individual achievement both on and off the stage through volunteer work and volunteer hours to a member theatre, said Jerry Brees, the entertainment director for the Soldiers’ Theatre at USAG Italy. “It’s a small way to honor such an outstanding part of our theater family.”
What started as a one-time dance performance turned into a lifelong interest for Sinlao, a Sacramento native, who has contributed to the Soldiers’ Theatre in Italy for over three years.
“When I was when in middle school, my mom enrolled me in a Filipino theatre company,” said Sinlao. “We would do a lot of cultural dances, a lot of songs and I spent a lot of time being on stage.”
Sinlao’s first performance consisted of the traditional Filipino folk dance named tinikling, a coordinated musical performance involving bamboo poles. Since then, Sinlao’s theater resume has involved everything from choreography to acting, with credits in over a dozen productions at Italy alone.
“(Performing) taught me a lot about having a good work ethic and learning to work at something and practice before you could actually master it or perform,” said Sinlao.
It’s Sinlao’s work ethic which led Brees to nominate him for the award, a significant recognition which pays tribute to individuals or organizations for their long or special service in the theater, while recognizing outstanding dedication, service and contributions which have had a significant impact on the quality of the local theater.
“(Sinlao) joined our Soldiers’ Theatre family in 2017 when he came to audition for “Unexpected Laughter” a collection of short adult comedies. He was cast in the show and instantly became a popular and integral part of the theatre community,” explained Brees. “His fellow cast members and crew love working with him as he brings a complete sense of joy and passion to our program.”
According to Brees, , Sinlao has advanced the theater in multiple capacities with over 1,600 hours volunteering at the Soldiers’ Theatre including acting, dancing, singing, choreography, as a stage manager and technician, while also assisting with set construction, props, and other behind-the-scenes work.
While his enjoyment of performing arts drove Sinlao to the Soldiers’ Theatre, the relationships and community keep him coming back for more.
“I love performing, creating choreography, learning songs and dances, and lines but getting to work with families on base has been one of the coolest things, because theater consists of siblings, mothers, daughters, fathers and sons, and every type of diversity,” said Sinlao. “It’s nice to get to bond outside of work, and have some pretty nice moments over something, artistic, that they like to do.”
Sinlao’s contributions are highlighted in his award nomination where it describes him as instrumental in producing a spark of passion, excitement and joy that is truly infectious and has changed lives for many, many volunteers.
“(Sinlao) has supported the program by being a staunch advocate in the community to bring in young, single Soldiers and encourage their participation. His mentorship, personality and enthusiasm has been instrumental in their lives; relieving stress, giving them a safe space and encouraging them to learn, grow and pursue their dreams in the arts,” reads the award citation. “(Sinlao) truly embodies the Soldiers’ Theatre mission to provide these Soldiers with so much more than a theatre experience; he gives them a place to call home away from the stresses of deployment and military life.”
While nearing the end of his service with the Army, Sinlao hopes to pursue a career in the medical field once discharged but plans to continue participating in performing arts as long as he can.