By Tim Hipps
IMCOM Public Affairs
SAN ANTONIO – For the first time in 20 years, the U.S. Army Soldier Show will perform at Fort Sam Houston Theatre, with three 7 p.m. shows scheduled for April 19, 20 and 21.
Soldier Show production manager Tim Higdon said he remembers the last time the “entertainment for the Soldier, by the Soldier” song-and-dance production played this venue.
“The last time the Soldier Show actually performed in this facility was in 1992,” Higdon said. “Because the stage was so small, we had to do a modified ‘B’ level show without all the bells and whistles. I know that because I was in that show.”
Today, following a $17-million renovation and expansion project, the Army’s second-oldest movie theater, built in the 1930s, is Army Entertainment’s new home.
“Here we are 20 years later, exactly, and we’re opening the show in its new home on the very same stage that it performed on 20 years ago,” Higdon said. “That’s very cool.”
“We gave [the theatre] a reason to re-exist,” added artistic director Victor Hurtado.
Army Entertainment relocated in 2011 from Fort Belvoir, Va., to Fort Sam Houston as part of the Army’s Base Realignment and Closure.
“This renovated facility was designed and built for the purposes of the Soldier Show,” Higdon said. “That’s why it has the facility abilities that it has. As a training facility goes, it’s definitely meeting the mission, and we’re very pleased with it.
“We’re able to be much more effective and efficient in preparing the show and utilizing the Soldiers’ time effectively,” Higdon said. “It allows us to put the show together in a much more concentrated and consolidated time frame just because we have the space to spread things out.”
In the overhauled facility that stood closed for nearly 15 years, everything from the stage forward was renovated to restore its 1930s atmosphere. From the expanded stage back, a new, modern facility was built, complete with offices and rooms for dressing, costuming, makeup, meetings and rehearsals.
“It’s a gift to any writer or director to have a facility that’s adequate,” Hurtado said. “When you come into a place that has a fly space and has enough space for everything and enough rehearsal space for everyone to be kept busy and for your ideas to continue to be rehearsed all at the same time is a gift, man, it really is.
“It came with a lot of renewed resources, so yeah, it really did reinvigorate me. I think it’s reinvigorated everybody.”