SAN ANTONIO - The U.S. Army Soldier Show concluded its 2012 season Sept. 30 in front of a full house at the historic Fort Sam Houston Theater.
Produced by the U.S. Army Installation Management Command, the 90-minute show, "Army Strong," was presented at more than 40 Army installations since April, entertaining Soldiers and Families around the world, including Hawaii and Korea. Nineteen Soldiers were selected for this year's cast to sing, dance and entertain.
"One of the most exciting things that I hold dear and will never forget is the reception we get when we finish performing for the audience - the love and genuine concern they have for us," said cast-member SFC Melvin Williams, who will depart for his ninth deployment after the Soldier Show.
"It's an honor and a privilege to be selected for the Soldier Show. It works hand-in-hand for me - I look at it as another mission," he said. "But my mission here is different. It's to inspire those Families and Soldiers, and for those Soldiers and friends I lost, it's to carry out their dedication, those beliefs about the Army and what they stood for."
2LT Daniel Monplaisir, an aspiring theater actor and member of the Alabama National Guard, said that despite the 12 to16 hour days, the experience was invaluable.
"The hard work that goes into the show is so worth it because the people we perform for are Army Soldiers and Families," said Monplaisir. "A lot of them have been going through some tough stuff. Being in wartime there's some stress, but for 90 minutes they get to let all that stress go and feel really good about what they do being part of the Army."
At Fort Bragg, a group of performers were off-duty singing karaoke when they learned that a Family had recently lost a Soldier. In tribute, they sang a song from the Soldier's favorite band and invited them to the show.
"For that 48-hour period when we were all there at Ft. Bragg together, we were able to reach out and touch that one family in their moment of need," said Monplaisir. "We were able to be a part of the celebration of the service their great Soldier had."
SPC Tiffani Lindstrom remembers the stop at Fort Stewart fondly. Lindstrom, who was wounded in 2007 while deployed to Egypt, spent a year hospitalized at Walter Reed, and at Fort Stewart's warrior transition unit.
When the production stopped at Fort Stewart, Lindstrom said, her Walter Reed doctors watched from the first three rows.
The Soldier-performers left an impression on those "outside the wire," too, showing Americans there's more to a Soldier than soldiering. In addition to putting on shows at Army garrisons around the world, the Soldier Show performed in Times Square during the Army Birthday June 14, as well as at the city of Augusta's 9/11 remembrance ceremony.
"I had no idea the Army had anything like this," said Alli Dean, 25, a San Antonio social worker. "It was my first time seeing this many Soldiers in the first place, let alone performing on stage, and I have to say I was very impressed."
The annual production is put on by Army Entertainment, a division of IMCOM's Family and MWR Programs, and operates under the mantra "Entertainment for the Soldier, by the Soldier."