By Elvia Kelly, Fort Stewart Public AffairsOctober 14, 2011
FORT STEWART, Ga. - Switch the flip, and the gymnasium at Fort Stewart's Newman Fitness Center becomes dark. The darkness soon filled with center stage lights reflecting red, blue, orange and green hues. The Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation 2011 U.S. Soldier Show, featuring this year's production as the "Carnival - A Traveling Thank You," rocked the stage with high energy, enthusiasm and an electrifying performance to remember, Oct. 11.
From food service to supply, Soldiers from various military occupational specialties from around the world performed to rhythmic-moving, upbeat songs. The entertainers brought Soldiers and Family Members back in time by staging an enormous clock, featuring years digitally.
"We are presenting the Soldier Show," Cpl. Drake Delucca, Army entertainment staff production assistant, said. "The Soldier Show is a huge Las Vegas-style show but Family oriented. We are here to entertain the troops and their Families."
The Soldier Show embodies the element of "for the Soldier, by the Soldier." It is a musical production performed by Soldiers for fellow service members. However, the audience is not limited to troops but to the entire community.
"They are Soldiers like everybody else," Cpl. Delucca shared. "We bring them out of their units for a nine-month period, so they can go on the road and entertain Families, other troops, retirees and civilians. It is open to everyone and it is all for free."
The show was a full-house. Children were seen dancing and many wore smiling faces. The entertainers showcased their musical talent, changing their costumes every so often. One performance featured a cowboy theme and another, the groovy '70s.
According to the U.S. Soldier Show handbook, the Soldiers offer their performances on a regular basis and are responsible for the transportation, loading and unloading, set-up, recovery and maintenance of over 70,000 pounds of equipment required for production. The Soldiers also work 14-hour days and are required to maintain their military proficiency throughout the tour.
The performers in the Soldier Show will travel across the nation, including a musical tour in Korea and countries in Europe. After concluding their nine-month production tour in Washington, D.C., the Soldiers will return to their respective duty stations.
"I joined the Soldier Show in March," Sgt. Emily Mcaleesejergins, Kentucky National Guard Band, said. "I am traveling with all of my friends and Soldiers around the world. We are about two months out from being finished."
Sergeant Mcaleesejergins is no stranger to the Soldier Show. She participated in the 2004 U.S. Soldier Show. This year, she received a phone call requesting her participation because the show was a female short for this year's cast, she said.
"The receiving line at the end of the show is the best part of the show," Sgt. Mcaleesejergins shared. "After we are done performing, we've sung and danced out hearts out, hearing the response from the crowd is really the best part. We hear "you've touched lives" or "you've made us cry in good ways." The energy that we give to Families, friends and Soldiers is really something that makes it all worth it."
Corporal Delucca says that morale is key and that is what the Soldier Show extends.
"We learned way back in the Civil War that there were always those jokers, those entertainers who would go around camp fires and entertain the troops," he said. "There were always those entertainers who entertain Families. Everything that is light-hearted of good spirit that's going to help up-lift and carry us on to the next day, we need it. The Soldier Show is awesome."