By Mr. Kevin Stabinsky (IMCOM)June 24, 2010
ATLANTA -- To close out the Army's birthday week, members of the Fort McPherson and Fort Gillem communities gathered at the Clayton County School of Performing Arts in Jonesboro to view the 2010 Soldier Show June 18.
The 74-minute production, produced and performed entirely by Soldiers, was dubbed version 27.0 (in honor of the 27th year of the current Soldier Show format) and incorporated song, dance and skits amid multiple stage backgrounds to engage the audience in an entertainment extravaganza, said Sgt. 1st Class Earnest Baskin, Soldier Show NCOIC.
Baskins, who performed in the show in 2008 and served as last year's NCOIC, said 19 performers and four stage crew members spent eight weeks learning how to perform and set up the show, which will be performed more than 120 times worldwide between April 20 and the end of November.
During that time period, he said performers studied chorography, vocals, set up and dance. Also, this year the Soldiers performed something new: their own original piece of music.
The song, "We Will Make it," was an original piece of music composed by performers to convey a message of hope to fellow Soldiers and Families.
The Soldier Show also ventured into other areas for the first time this year, incorporating more technology-type skits into the show to keep with the version 27.0 theme, Baskins said.
"We live in a digital age," he said of the additions, which included simulations of chat rooms, YouTube video clips and e-mail messages to transition into skits. Lisa San-Miguel, a college student at Griffen Technical College, said the use of e-mail messages to introduce skits was "really creative" and that she liked the idea.
However, her favorite part of the show was the tribute to deceased musical artist; Michael Jackson. During the tribute, Soldiers sang songs from throughout his solo career and his time as a member of the Jackson Five.
Sgt. Kevin Cherry, Third Infantry Division Band member, performed a solo skit as Jackson, complete with moon walking. "I liked the Michael Jackson tribute best," said San-Miguel, who was seeing the show for the first time.
"I love Michael and the dancers were dancing really well and singing pretty good, too." Nancy Buchieri, wife of retired Lt. Col. Michael Buchieri, also said the Michael Jackson tribute was her favorite part.
However, she said the entire production was well put together.
While much of the production was based on current technologies and music, the show also took time to address its 92-year past.
Several skits paid tribute to composer Irving Berlin, who wrote many songs about Army life, most notably "Oh How I Hate to Get Up in the Morning," a humorous account of waking up early in the Army. Estella Walker, Fort Gillem Post Exchange inventory control specialist, said she enjoyed the free entertainment, and has for several years.
"It's good, local entertainment," she said. "I know the Soldiers do a lot of hard work so we need to support them."
Walker invited her friend from church, Carrie Hayes, a merchandise processer at JC Penny, to attend the show for additional support.
"It was something new. I wanted to see something different," Hayes said, adding it sounded interesting because she has seen musicals before.
Following the performance, the audience gave the Soldiers a standing ovation for their performance, taking time to interact with the cast afterward. "I would go again," San-Miguel said.