SAN ANTONIO, Texas -- Get set to be entertained by "Ready and Resilient," the 2013 U.S. Army Soldier Show.
The 75-minute song-and-dance production by active duty, Army Reserve and Army National Guard Soldiers uses music to put an entertaining spin on how Soldiers and their families maintain readiness and resiliency.
"We had to take a good look at what the Army says makes troops and their families ready and resilient and what mechanisms the country and the world in general are offering to help with resilience," said Soldier Show Artistic Director Victor Hurtado. "And helping with readiness because you know there's a good chance that you're going back out again, so you better be ready."
The show debuts at Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston, Texas, April 19 and April 20, with 7:30 p.m. performances at the historic Fort Sam Houston Theater. There also will be a matinee, set for 2 p.m. April 21, before the Soldiers embark on a four-month tour of installations across the nation.
"The show is very much about illustrating not only ways to get away and be resilient, but also illustrating overarching 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," Hurtado said.
The show's troops are focused on accomplishing the mission and providing quality entertainment at the same time.
"The material makes sense with the messaging, and it also makes sense to them," Hurtado said of the 15 Soldier-performers and seven Soldier-technicians that comprise the cast and crew. "We're also going to be entertaining. We're going to be singing songs just because they are on the radio."
Hurtado believes this cast has the ability to outperform many of their predecessors.
"There is no comparison, but what I will say is that there is a huge amount of promise in this cast," Hurtado said. "And I never use the word 'promise' lightly. Promise and potential are two very different things.
"Potential is what allows you to prepare," he explained. "Promise is what opens up the doors."
Hurtado promises there is something for everyone who watches the show. Tributes are paid to the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation, the 75th anniversary of "God Bless America," the 60th anniversary of the Armistice of the Korean War, and the 50th anniversary of the beginning of the Vietnam War. This year also marks the 30th anniversary of the modern era of the U.S. Army Soldier Show.
"Every American, military-affiliated or not, will be able to see themselves in the show," Hurtado said. "The fact that the show is entertaining someone is already taking them away [from their mindset], but the messaging is going to inspire. We know they are coming to be entertained, but further, the content in the show is designed to hopefully be a time-released pool of inspiration."
He is convinced this cast is perfectly suited for that role.
"This is not a cast of characters," Hurtado said. "This is a cast with character. I tell them that everything that makes them a pain in the neck is everything that makes them amazing performers. They are very giving and generous. Unless I'm off on my observations, which I don't think I am, they are a generous performing cast. They are not so introspective or doing it for themselves.
"I think almost every single one of them understands what it is to leave everything you have on that stage. And then get back on the bus and be resilient, so that you have more to leave at the next place. There is definitely a good variety of vocal instruments, character, and a general overwhelming desire to leave something with the audience. They are really embracing the messaging, as well. They really are."
From the opening song, "Let's Go" by Calvin Harris, the direction of the show is set.
"There's a lyric in there that we've taken almost all of our cues from, and it says it's not about where you've been, it's about where you're going," Hurtado said.
The complete lyrics:
It's not about what you've done
It's about what you doing
It's all about where you going
No matter where you've been
"To me, as the artistic director and the writer of the show, that's where I'm taking my cues from," Hurtado said. "Resilience is about the now. And readiness is about getting ready for the future. Not much you can do about the past. We're not painting a rosy picture, but resilience, again, is about moving on."
Hurtado explained how performers will bring the message to life on stage.
"We touch on resilience while being deployed," he said. "The day-to-day things you've got to do to get you through the first day and to the next day. To not just get you through the day you've had, but to the next day. There's got to be a way to recharge quickly because you don't have a whole lot of time.
"So what are those mechanisms?" he continued. "Camaraderie, playing a song with other Soldiers, interacting in some sort of group activity that just kind of takes place, actually having some communication with your girlfriend or boyfriend back home, there is Wi-Fi now, so having some sort of communication.
"We touch on R&R [Rest and Recuperation leave] from deployment, not necessarily coming all the way home: maybe meeting in Europe or somewhere else," Hurtado said. "We touch on family time back home, not necessarily having to go somewhere. It's more about getting away, and not having to go somewhere to get away, that you can get away while you're still at home and spend family time. SARGE may be giving suggestions for movies to watch with the family."
SARGE, or Speech Activated Reconnaissance Gathering Entity, is to the Soldier Show what Siri is to an iPhone, an application that delivers information to electronic devices, such as cell phones, pads and tablets. Soldiers throughout the show will lean on SARGE for information about how to deal with everyday life, and like a good Soldier, SARGE always delivers.
"He is representative of a knowledgeable entity that would be able to lead people in a purposeful direction," Hurtado said. "He has the Army answers and the human answers."
Hurtado does not want to reveal too much about the show, insisting this is one not to miss.
"The mechanism is really brilliant, so if we give too much of it away, they are going to be expecting it," Hurtado said. "Arguably and humbly, I will say this is going to probably go down as one of the more well thought-out shows, and there are a lot of reasons for it."