Active-duty soldiers bring the emotional, mental, physical, spiritual and family pillars of military life to the stage in “Army Strong,” the 2012 U.S. Army Soldier Show.

Active-duty soldiers bring the emotional, mental, physical, spiritual and family pillars of military life to the stage in “Army Strong,” the 2012 U.S. Army Soldier Show.
The show visits Fort Polk at 7 p.m. Sept. 15 and 16 in the Bayou Theatre.
“Every section of the show has something to do with strength in one of those areas,” said production manager and producer Tim Higdon.
The 90-minute song-and-dance production accentuates the strengths and resiliency of soldiers and military families through modern songs, current hits, vibrant costuming, exciting choreography and spectacular visuals.
“That is in line with the Chief of Staff’s motto for this year: ‘The strength of our nation is our Army, the strength of our Army is our soldiers, the strength of our soldiers is our families, and that’s what makes us Army Strong,” Higdon said. “So the show follows that theme and highlights the strength aspect all the way through.”
Soldiers will attempt to sing and dance their way into the audiences’ heart, mind and soul. “Entertainment for the soldier, by the soldier,” is the working motto of the U.S. Army Soldier Show, which delivers a positive message to the troops.
“It’s all about ‘Army Strong –– Hooah!’ So we’re moving out and doing that,” Higdon said.
The 2012 edition unveils a state-of-the-art, high-resolution LED video wall –– 13-by-28 feet  –– featuring photographs of Army life on a virtual backdrop revolving from scene to scene and song to song.
“It’s going to be a very visual show –– very current, very modern,” Higdon said. “We’re excited about that new aspect. The incorporation of that LED technology is going to make the show move forward with a modern and relevant presentation.”
Army Reserve Sgt. Melissa Neal, winner of the 2011 Operation Rising Star military singing contest, will make a taped appearance. The Soldier Show cast will join Neal’s video backdrop to sing “Hallelujah,” which she performed during Operation Rising Star finals week in San Antonio and later recorded at EMI Music’s Capitol Records Studios in Hollywood.
“It’s kind of magical,” said Soldier Show artistic director Victor Hurtado, who worked all three projects with Neal.
As always, sections of the show are dedicated to legends of the entertainment industry, such as Etta James. Another blast into the past features a segment accentuating musical eras of the 1920s, ’40s, ’50s and ’60s, capped with the Rolling Stones’ classic “Satisfaction.”
“The motivation for that was ‘Moves like Jagger,’” Hurtado said. “We love that song.” That tune is by Maroon 5, featuring Christina Aguilera.
The theme of this season’s Soldier Show evolved from the meeting of many minds at the U.S. Army Installation Management Command. Lt. Gen. Michael Ferriter, commander of Installation Management Command, stressed the importance of expressing the Warrior Ethos, which proclaims that no challenge is too large to conquer.
“Everything in the show really speaks to resiliency, being able to adapt and overcome,” Higdon said. “Resiliency is that mental part, being able to put things in a perspective which allows you to continue to move forward, that you never come up against a challenge that you can’t overcome.”
“Putting the show together has gone from hard to simply difficult,” said Hurtado, a 26-year Soldier Show veteran and 12-time director. “The show came from many, many briefings, and all of these things are always in the back of my mind … but the end result is soldiers’ lives are illustrated within the show in a really cool way.”
For example, strength is personified by Des’ree’s “You Gotta Be.” Lady Gaga’s “Edge of Glory” is dedicated to the soldier-athletes in the U.S. Army World Class Athlete Program who participated in the 2012 Olympic Games in London, along with soldiers who take part in All-Army Sports, post intramurals and daily physical fitness drills.
Whitney Houston’s “One Moment in Time” honors the late songstress and significant events in U.S. Army history.
Lady Gaga scores again with “Marry the Night,” which illustrates soldiers’ resilience, complete with a night vision sequence.
Hurtado did not reveal too much prior to the opening. He would rather have droves of entertainment aficionados see and hear the U.S. Army Soldier Show, the marquee event of Army Entertainment, than read about it, he said.
“I have to say the talent is exceptional,” Hurtado said. “They deliver.”
New Soldier Show choreographer Amy Lynn Miles, who recently toured with Ricky Martin, brings another perspective to the troops.
“She can dance a little,” Hurtado said. “She’s only 23, but she’s disciplined, and she takes charge. She earned their respect very quickly –– within minutes, I would say.”
The show features a lot of spoken word, much of which was written by the soldiers, particularly Pfc. Christopher Roman of Fort Drum, N.Y., Pfc. Raymond McKnight Jr. of Fort Benning, Ga., and Spc. Kayonnia Crowder of Fort Carson, Colo.
The U.S. Army Soldier Show, proudly presented by Installation Management Command, presents a family-friendly, high-energy, 90-minute  musical production by the active duty soldiers. The six-month tour features performances of today's hits, yesterday's classics and even original material.