Originally created 10/27/01

Singing soldiers plan show at Fort Gordon



The 2001 U.S. Army Soldier Show will be at 8 p.m. today and 2 p.m. Sunday at Alexander Hall at Fort Gordon.

The show, an 80-minute Broadway-style musical review, is performed annually at military bases across the country. The performers are not trained actors or singers, but active-duty soldiers showcasing their talents.

"The whole philosophy is entertainment for the soldier by the soldier," said Harriet Rice, the public affairs officer at the U.S. Army Community and Family Support Center in Alexandria, Va.

"It gives soldiers on stage a chance to develop as soldiers and live their dream," Ms. Rice said. "This shows the Army leadership values soldiers for more than just their war-fighting skills."

The first U.S. Army show, called Yip Yip Yaphank, was conceived by Sgt. Irving Berlin and performed on Broadway in 1918.

The show was re-established during World War II under the title This is the Army. A film version of the show opened in 1943 starring Ronald Reagan, Gene Kelly and Joe Lewis.

The show, which was modernized in 1983, has traveled throughout America and locations overseas, alternating every year between Korea and Europe.

"They're a great group of young people the Army can take pride in," said Steve Walpert, the entertainment director at Fort Gordon. "Nowadays, you don't get the opportunity to see a good old-fashioned variety show.

"The technical support is outstanding - they have first-rate concert lighting and sound equipment, anything you'd see at a concert at the civic center."

The show will include a mixture of musical numbers ranging from patriotic songs (God Bless America and Battle Hymn of the Republic) to modern pop songs (Survivor by Destiny's Child, The Call by the Backstreet Boys and I am a Man of Constant Sorrow by The Soggy Bottom Boys).

The live entertainment, performed for more than 20 years at Fort Gordon, will have a positive effect on the soldiers and the community, Mr. Walpert said.

"I think all forms of entertainment are needed now to boost morale," he said. "Everyone wants to live life to the fullest, and in a positive manner.

"This show provides that opportunity."

MusicalP>What: The 2001 United States Army Soldier Show

When: 8 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday

Where: The Performing Arts Theatre at Fort Gordon

Admission: Free to the public, must have a photo ID for admittance to the fort; call 791-6779.

Reach Albert Ross at (706) 823-3339 or albert.ross@augustachronicle.com.