A U.S. Army soldier performs during a previous U.S. Army Soldier Show. Courtesy photo.

For five months, 17 performers have been traveling the country to entertain U.S. Military troops, their friends, and families and on Oct. 12 these brave men and women – on stage and in the field – will come to the Tobin Center for the Performing Arts. All U.S. Army Soldier Show events on the tour are free and open to the public.

The show in San Antonio, known as Military City USA, quickly sold out, but according the Tobin Center’s box office, more tickets may become available as the date approaches. The online order form will be updated here.

The U.S. Army Soldier Show is made up active-duty soldiers that have been temporarily assigned to boost morale and honor the supportive connections between civilians and members of the military. This year’s theme, “We Serve,” highlights the intrinsic ways in which service men and women serve their county as well as the less obvious, seemingly small, ways that civilians and families support their troops.

The show’s Production Stage Manager Sgt. Quentin Dorn, who has been stationed with the National Guard at Fort Sam Houston for three years, said the 75-minute Broadway variety show “tells the story of the Army – the whole story. The narrator, a Vietnam War veteran, guides us through different roles of how we serve each other. … No matter what you do as a civilian, you have a talent that serves the country.”

From making flags to cooking, sewing, or giving medical, childcare and financial help, it takes a village to support the military.

The show, billed as “entertainment for the soldier, by the soldier,” includes original short skits, songs, dance covers that are often mash-ups of Top 40 hits from artists like Bruno Mars and Beyoncé, “repurposed to tell the story of the army,” Dorn said.

The modern version of the show was started in 1983, but the tradition of entertaining military troops has been around perhaps as long as militaries themselves. The U.S. Army Soldier Show was founded as an “outgrowth of several shows existing in various Army commands, with soldier talent selected from worldwide competition.”

Each year, the show features a new cast of soldiers from various backgrounds. Some have been professional ballet dancers, some sang in church choirs, some have high school or college experience in theater, others have had no training or interest in the stage – until now.

“I think the biggest misconception of the military, coming off of recent wars, is that it’s all about war. In truth there are a lot of opportunities outside of combat,” Dorn said. “The beautiful thing about the military is that people from all walks of life come (to serve).”

Behind the 17 performers are more than 30 stage technicians and other crew members that set the stage in some outdoor venues with capacities as high as 25,000 to small school gymnasiums that hold less than 500 people. After the local show, the troop will travel abroad to perform for garrisons in Italy, Germany, and South Korea and return to the U.S. for shows in Alaska and Hawaii.

“It’s an uplifting experience,” Dorn said. “We love doing it.”

The Tobin Center is slated to host Operation Rising Star, a talent competition, in December. Auditions are currently being held across the U.S., applications are due on Oct. 4.

*Top image: A U.S. Army soldier performs during a previous U.S. Army Soldier Show. Courtesy photo. 

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Iris Dimmick

Senior Reporter Iris Dimmick covers public policy pertaining to social issues, ranging from affordable housing and economic disparity to policing reform and workforce development. Contact her at iris@sareport.org