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Soldier Show set for Oct. 9

The 2010 Soldier Show will be Oct. 9 at Wetherby Field.

The live performance is free and open to the public, said Mr. Casey Tindoll, director of marketing for the Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation.

“It’s a first-class event,” said Mr. Tindoll, who has attended several Soldier Shows in the past. “It’s very unique (and) very high quality Soldiers performing for Soldiers. I’m impressed every year. I definitely expect this year to be even better.”

The entertainment is diverse, Mr. Tindoll said, including both music and dance and a variety of genres, such as country, R&B and gospel.

“The whole theme of it is technology,” he said. “Whatever entertainment they follow, I’m sure it will be represented on stage that night by men and women fighting for our country.”

According to the Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation Command website, the Soldier Show officially began in 1983, but it was built on the foundation of earlier Army shows that boasted the slogan: “Entertainment for the Soldier, by the Soldier.”

The performers and technicians, selected through a detailed application process that involves dance and vocal auditions, PT tests and commander recommendations, tour for six months, visiting more than 50 venues across DoD.

Fort Benning will be about the 87th performance of the 2010 Soldier Show, said Mr. Johnny Stewart, producer and program manager.

The view from the stage

PFC Rena Cunningham, a logistics supply specialist in the Indiana National Guard, said she’s performed before — in college and professionally — but “it hasn’t ever been to this magnitude.”PFC Cunningham started traveling with the rest of the cast and crew in May. Since then, she said she’s seen the show make some people shed tears and others get up and dance.

“It’s high-energy, fast-paced dancing,” she said. “You got a little bit of rapping; you got a little bit of classical music — something every single person would like, from young to old. It’s everything you expect for a show to be because it affects everybody in a different way.”

PFC Cunningham has several dance steps and solos in the production. The most difficult part for her to learn was the staging and the setup and take-down of the set, she said, but it’s worth it.

“You really can’t complain because you’re doing something great for more than just yourself,” she said. “I think the best thing about the entire show is the reaction people have afterward. You take them away. It’s like a safe haven for the mind for at least an hour and a half.

“It makes sweating and being tired and setting up the stage and tearing it down and all the stresses worthwhile. You just start living in the moment and enjoying what you’re doing and why you’re doing it.

The view from backstage

SPC Steven Tardieu, an Infantryman from Fort Bragg, N.C., said doing technical work behind the scenes is his “dream.”

“I can’t dance and I can’t sing, but do be able to be part of the industry I have a high respect for is pretty awesome,” said the Jamaican native. “It’s hard work, but at the end of the day, I love what I do.”

After applying to work with the 2010 Soldier Show crew, SPC Tardieu arrived at Fort Belvoir, Va., in February.

“It was like coming back home,” said SPC Tardieu, who had done backstage production work for several years in high school and as a hobby before joining the Army.

He’s done computer editing, repair work, cameraman detail and special effects in the past, but nothing like this, he said.

“This is a whole new level for me,” he said. “Here I am working with high power ampage, thousand dollar lights... I love it.”

SPC Tardieu said he recommended people attend the show to get a glimpse of Soldiers from all walks of life doing more than just tactical maneuvering and communicating.

“When they see the show, they see, ‘hey, these guys are exactly like us,’” the technician said.

“They should come out — it’s a major production. For us to put it together in six weeks and have it at the caliber it is pretty amazing.”

The show will last approximately 90 minutes. Food vendors will sell pizza, ice cream, hot dogs, funnel cakes and similar items. Gates open at 7 p.m. and the show starts at 8.

“Come out and see Soldiers in a different light,” Mr. Tindoll said. “It’s a really cool thing.”

Coolers are prohibited but guests may bring blankets and lawn chairs for the concert.

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