by Nel Lampe
It’s rare when a Broadway-style variety show is in town for one night with free admission. That’s the case when the Soldier Show is in the Pikes Peak Center, 190 S. Cascade Ave., Aug. 19 at 7 p.m.
The family-friendly show is open to Soldiers and Families as well as the general public. Tickets are free and available at the Information, Tickets and Registration office at the Outdoor Recreation Complex, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Tuesday-Friday and Saturdays, 8 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Tickets are also available at the Pikes Peak Center Box Office, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday-Saturday, and the World Arena Box Office, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday-Friday.
Funded with Morale, Welfare and Recreation funds and corporate sponsorships, the Soldier Show is a 90-minute, high energy fast-paced production, featuring music ranging from country, rhythm and blues, gospel, rock, oldies, soul and patriotic songs.
“The carnival concept of the 2011 U.S. Army Soldier Show will take audiences on a globe-spanning journey to more fun-filled venues in 90 minutes than some folks experience in a lifetime,” according to Tim Hipps, Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation Command Public Affairs.
Soldier Show director Victor Hurtado said “There are a lot of dancers, a lot of movement in the show. But there are some great voices as well.”
The 2011 Soldier Show – by Soldiers for Soldiers – is on an eight-month tour that includes 106 performances at 61 installations or other venues in Germany, Korea and posts in the U.S. Twenty active-duty Soldiers were selected for the cast through auditions. Coming from jobs in infantry, military police, medical, aviation, intelligence, signal, transportation and tactical units, the Soldiers are amateur artists with a passion for music, dance and performing, according to a Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation Command fact sheet.
Cast members are selected each year from Soldiers who submit application packages that include videotapes, biographies, photographs and letters of recommendation from their commanders. Soldiers must have an outstanding record in their units as well as demonstrate musicality, movement, stage presence and versatility, the fact sheet stated.
Also, those selected for the Soldier Show must pass physical training and drug tests, uniform inspection and a dance audition.
Several Soldiers were selected as audio and lighting technicians, based on their military and civilian theater experience and training, as well as recommendations.
The new cast and technical crew spent 12-16 hour days at Fort Belvoir, Va., beginning with military formation, and including aerobic workouts, vocal coaching and dance training. In the meantime, performers memorized 40 songs and learned choreography. After six weeks of preparation, the Soldier Show started its stateside road tour. On the road, the Soldiers put in 14-hour days on average, seven days a week for seven months, traveling in a 44–passenger bus, two 18-wheel tractor-trailers and a 15-passenger van.
The Soldier Show originated in 1983 as an outgrowth of several shows that had existed in various Army commands. The motto, mission and philosophy of the show — Entertainment for the Soldier, by the Soldier — came from Sgt. Israel Beilin, who conceived and directed the first Army show on Broadway, “Yip Yap Yaphank.” Beilin later was known as Irving Berlin.
Berlin also produced a Broadway show during World War II, “This is the Army.” A 1943 film version starred Ronald Reagan.
This is the second year the Soldier Show has been on stage at the Pikes Peak Center.
Parking is available on streets in the vicinity of the Pikes Peak Center. A parking garage that charges $5 per car is at 255 Sahwatch St., one street west of Cascade. The garage entrance is open until 7:15 p.m. The garage closes an hour after the performance ends.
Editor’s note: Some information used in this story was furnished by Army Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation Public Affairs.