Army Spc. Felicia Holcomb has performed in more than 100 musical productions across the U.S. in the past decade, but when the curtains opened at Fort Gordon’s Alexander Hall on Tuesday, she admits she was “super nervous.”
The Soldier Show, a musical ensemble of soldiers that tours military installations to ease work pressures and improve morale, was at Holcomb’s home station, Fort Gordon.
“Returning home should have made me feel more amped, but the pressure of performing in front of the people I see every day was intense,” said Holcomb, an information technology specialist at Fort Gordon.
Despite the anxious feeling, she thrived under the spotlight, immediately announcing to the audience of more than 600 people in the opening segment of the 90-minute show that she was “back and ready to go.”
“From the rooftops shout it out, baby I’m ready to go,” Holcomb said, belting the lyrics of Republica’s crowd-pumping song, Ready to Go.
Holcomb and her 22-member cast and crew were met with applause and cheers.
This year’s production, titled Ready and Resilient: At Your Service explores what it means to train, serve and lead in the Army while coping with adversity away from home.
The performance, which is paid for with funds generated by the Army Department of Family, Morale, Welfare and Recreation, includes skits and family-friendly remixes of hit tracks and classic singles. The modern-day soldier show is celebrating its 30th anniversary; the show was started by Irving Berlin in 1918.
“The lights; the sounds; the soldiers – it was awesome,” Lt. Candice Whitley said.
At first, Whitley said she was not excited about attending with her friends because she thought it might put her behind in her work.
However, at the end she spent time shaking hands with each of the performers to tell them how much their production helped her escape.
“That was an hour-and-a-half well spent,” Whitley said. “It helped me escape the pressures of work.”
Holcomb, 23, began singing at age 2. She said her mother knew from the harmonic sound of her baby cry that she would be a star.
Holcomb said being part of the show is one of her greatest accomplishments.
“This is an amazing group of young, talented and hardworking soldiers,” said Steve Walpert, Fort Gordon’s entertainment director. “They truly embody the spirit of the show – ready and resilient – and it always makes us proud to have them perform at our post and provide us with some entertainment.”
The Soldier Show will perform at more than 40 installations across the U.S. in the next four months.
Walpert said the soldiers often work 14-hour days during the tour while maintaining their military jobs. They are responsible for the transportation, setup and maintenance of more than 60,000 pounds of equipment required for the production.
At the end of the tour, the cast and crew will return to their units.
Holcomb said she plans to continue her education at Paine College and get a master’s degree in social work to support and inspire young girls who might be experiencing some of the obstacles she faced while growing up – homelessness and switching schools multiple times.
“I love singing,” Holcomb said. “But more than that, I love bringing joy to people’s lives.”