July 3, 2013
By T. Anthony Bell
FORT LEE, Va. (July 4, 2013) -- Attracting eager and enthusiastic crowds during its mid-afternoon and evening performances at Fort Lee's MacLaughlin Fitness Center, the 2013 U.S. Army Soldier Show came to For Lee June 27 and treated military members, civilians and families to an unforgettable musical extravaganza.
It was the 16th of a 36-stop tour for the 22-member cast and crew of the show. Military budget cuts reduced the number of performances this year, but that didn't stymie the enthusiasm of the performers who represent active and reserve units across the Army.
This year's theme, "Ready and Resilient," celebrates the Army community's ability to "face and cope with adversity, adapt to change, recover, learn and grow" according to the Soldier Show's official website. Artistic Director Victor Hurtado said earlier during the tour that resiliency is the major theme, but it also tackles other relevant topics.
"The show is very much about illustrating not only ways to get away and be resilient," he said, "but also illustrating over-arching solutions to certain issues that are facing the military today, like (the Army's Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention Program), Gold Star, Blue Star and Survivor Outreach Services."
Using sketches and musical numbers to support the theme, the 90-minute production featured everything from hip hop, country and pop music to Broadway-style routines. It lasted approximately 75 minutes.
Aside from its musical diversity, the show featured at least three performers with Fort Lee ties -- Spc. Reuben Eldridge, Spc. Millie Anne Sneed and Sgt. Elisabeth Lewandowski.
Eldridge, a motor transport operator assigned at Fort Eustis, said before the show it was special performing at the Home of Logistics and an honor to be part of such a positive message.
"The message that we get to deliver to the audience and the morale that we spread around -- there are really no words to describe it,"said the 28-year old. "It's pretty close to an Olympian getting a gold medal every time we put on a show."
Sneed shared a similar sentiment. "I enjoy the job I have right now," said the ammunition specialist assigned to Fort Stewart, Ga. "I think it's really special because it's something that not many people get to do."
Lewandowski, a supply specialist who received her training here, is the show's wardrobe noncommissioned officer. She said she has met so many people in so many places that it has inspired her to the fullest extent.
"It's definitely something in my life I won't forget," said the San Diego native and Army Reservist. "I'm glad I can serve my country."
Cast members are selected each year after submitting an application package that includes videotapes, biographies, photographs and letters of recommendation.The selection criteria include talent, poise and showmanship. They must also pass a dance audition. Technicians are selected based on their military and civilian theater experience and training.