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An Air Force tradition to make stop at JBLM

Northwest Guardian

Published: 05:30PM June 12th, 2014

The Tops in Blue variety show’s 2014 World Tour continues the Air Force Entertainment’s tradition of the best singers, dancers and performers in the U.S. Air Force. The tour began May 26 and makes a stop at Joint Base Lewis-McChord June 18, 6 p.m., at McChord Field’s Hangar 9.

The concept is similar to the Army’s annual Soldier Show; more than 35 Airmen of all ranks and installations perform a variety of musical styles ranging from Pharrell Williams’ “Happy” to songs from Disney films like “Beauty and the Beast.”

"What we try to do is focus on family entertainment, but you’re going to see a wide variety of popular music of today,” said Robert Stork, operations manager for Tops in Blue. “And we end every show with a patriotic finish.”

This year’s touring cast came from a pool of more than 200 applications for the Air Force’s Worldwide Talent Search done each January at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas.

“We do get repeat performers and we have people who will come and they won’t make it the first year they audition,” Stork said. “They’ll take what they learned from the talent search and come back next year to be selected.”

More than 80 singers, dancers, musicians and comedians underwent a series of auditions, interviews and live performances during a 10-day period. In the end, the first and second-place finalists in multiple categories join a pool, from which cast members are selected by an AF Entertainment committee.

“Winners usually get into ‘Tops in Blue,’” Stork said. “We’re selecting from this group, whether they’re finishers or not.”

The touring performers are scheduled for 85 shows that run through mid-December. Stork said this year’s cast is just as talented and hard working as those in the past, on and off stage.

Along with performing on stage, the Airmen also do everything behind the scenes to put the show on.

While the talent search also accepts applications for technicians, vehicle operators and stagehands to help with sound, lighting and stage construction, the musicians pitch in as the roadies for the show.

“They’re tearing down the equipment and maintaining the equipment,” Stork said. “We don’t have a road crew or anything like that. They are the road crew.”