Soldier-performers who were shut out of the 2016 Soldier Show when the Army canceled the troupe have crafted a video along with supporters of the program, hoping to gather support for the reinstatement of the long-serving tour.
The video, which includes on-stage and behind-the-scenes footage as well as on-camera statements from some of last year’s auditioners, was assembled by a group of 50 people with connections to the show. According to one of the organizers, no participants wished to have their names appear in Army Times, citing potential command-chain issues, although some prospective 2016 performers are identified by name in the video.
“We by no means want anybody to think that we are bashing the decision,” one of the group members said. “We’re just hoping, that as a group effort, we can bring it back.”
Lt. Gen. Kenneth Dahl, head of Army Installation Management Command, decided to cancel the show late last year, but word didn’t reach the show’s contracted civilian employees, nor its 2016 audition class, until the first full week of January. Soldiers expecting to find out whether they made the show shortly after their December auditions in San Antonio instead received a group email with a Jan. 5 memo announcing the cancellation.
IMCOM officials told Army Times that they were seeking ways to continue spreading the show’s message, including potential partnerships involving those connected to the program or other private-sector outlets. The command expressed “grief” at the show’s cancellation in a Jan. 8 Facebook message, saying the move was necessary because “the Army must focus all available resources on readiness and ensure all Soldiers focus on their primary mission. Unfortunately, this means some programs, not matter how well loved, must be cut or reduced.”
A Change.org petition created Jan. 7 in support of the show’s reinstatement had nearly 550 signatures as of Tuesday afternoon.