By Tim Hipps (IMCOM)September 6, 2011
FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas - The U.S. Army Soldier Show will perform in Washington's historic Warner Theatre on Oct. 1, in what could be its final performance at 13th Street NW.
The Army Entertainment Division's BRAC-mandated move to San Antonio places the feasibility of future Warner Theatre shows in question. Whether or not the show returns to the Nation's Capital will depend on resources and whether the theater has dates available that coincide with the show's performances on Fort Belvoir, Va.
The song-and-dance production annually tours military installations, providing "Entertainment for the Soldier, by the Soldier." The Warner Theatre performance traditionally has served as a command performance for senior Army leaders in the National Capital Region.
Free tickets are available at the Warner Theatre Box Office, Fort Belvoir Community Club, Army Recreation Services Headquarters (Room 1D645) at the Pentagon, and the Hoffman Building (Room 2S60) in Alexandria, Va. Six tickets are allowed per person each visit.
Sgt. Irving Berlin wrote the first U.S. Army Soldier Show while on active duty at Camp Upton in Long Island, N.Y. "Yip Yip Yaphank" debuted on Broadway in 1918. During World War II, Berlin created another Soldier Show for Broadway: "This Is the Army," which inspired a 1943 movie starring Ronald Reagan.
That film offered Kate Smith singing "God Bless America" and Berlin himself singing "Oh, How I Hate to Get Up in the Morning." The show included "This is the Army, Mr. Jones," perhaps the only other song that older folks in contemporary audiences might recognize.
Today's audiences can easily identify with songs that showcase the talents of active-duty Soldiers who were selected by audition from throughout the Army.
They are amateur artists who have a passion for music, dance and performing. They come from information technology, human resources, food services, signal systems support, petroleum supply, combat medicine, aircraft structural repair, and other tactical units.
The carnival concept of this year's show will take audiences on a globe-spanning journey to more fun-filled venues in 90 minutes than some folks experience in a lifetime.
"It's an opportunity to actually take the audience on a journey with us," Soldier Show director Victor Hurtado said. "And not just to the continental United States -- we have a great international scene."
Africa, Samoa, Latin America and Nepal, with influences from India, Thailand and China, are represented in the show that plays to the strengths of cast members from several countries. Each international scene features authentic music from that locale.
This year's cast features strong instrumentalists on the violin, drums, guitar, keyboards and bass who will keep the performers on the move as they dance from scene to scene.
"There are a lot of dancers, a lot of movement in the show," Hurtado said. "But there some great voices as well. And some great stage presence. We have some great rapper and spoken-word guys, so we have quite a bit of that driving the show."
MWR is in the business of taking Soldiers and Families away from the trials and tribulations of Army life during wartime, Hurtado said.
"I think this will definitely inspire the patriotism, but really help you escape," Hurtado said. "You wouldn't go to the circus, a boardwalk, a country fair, a fun house -- in four different areas of the world -- and a Fourth of July celebration, all in one day. You could never physically do that, but you're going to be able to do that at this show."
The show will tour for eight months before concluding Dec. 10 with a VIP performance in Army Entertainment Division's newly renovated theater on Fort Sam Houston.
The Soldier Show is not funded with taxpayer dollars, but with non-appropriated funds generated from Morale, Welfare and Recreation business programs and with generous corporate sponsorship.
The 2011 U.S. Army Soldier Show is sponsored by Army G-1's Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention program and Navy Federal Credit Union.
WHO: 2011 U.S. Army Soldier Show
WHAT: Performance at Washington's historic Warner Theatre
WHEN: Oct. 1 at 7:30 p.m.
WHERE: Warner Theatre, 513 13th Street NW, Washington, D.C.
HOW: Free tickets available at Warner Theatre Box Office (202) 783-4000, Fort Belvoir Community Club, Bldg. 12, 10300 Taylor Road (703) 805-3714, Army Recreation Services HQ at Pentagon Room 1D645 (703) 697-3816, Hoffman Building Room 2S60 in Alexandria, Va. (703) 325-6346