Tops in Blue soars onto stage

By Kevin Wilson

Marshall Auditorium will open its doors in two weeks for a free night of family entertainment, courtesy of the U.S. Air Force.

Tops in Blue, a show given worldwide by the Air Force, will perform in front of what is expected to be a packed house for a 7 p.m. Feb. 16 show. The event is free and open to the public.

“Tops in Blue is the Air Force’s premier entertainment showcase,” said Tom Edwards, the show producer and the chief of Air Force Entertainment. “The new 2005/2006 team is a reflection of the best of the best performers throughout the Air Force.”

The team is visiting more than 120 locations in the United States and 25 foreign countries for its season. Each audience will experience a theme of Club Bleu, a nightclub style to surround the many pieces of popular and patriotic music.

Whatever the theme, the Air Force has traditionally promoted the event as a night of family entertainment.

The only real advice Cannon Air Force Base personnel have is to get there early. Staff Sgt. Craig Seals of the base’s public affairs department said that gates open at 6 p.m., and he’s guessing that seats will go fast.

“I would say so,” Seals said. “As far as the Air Force goes, it’s usually a pretty popular event.”

In this year’s show, Audiences should expect to hear music from such artists as the Platters, Gladys Knight and the Pips, Billy Joel and Gloria Estefan.

Tops in Blue started more than 50 years ago when Major Al Reilly (now a retired Colonel) created the Air Force Worldwide Talent Contest in 1953, according to the show Web site (www.topsinblue.com). Reilly knew there were many athletic competitions, but there was nothing for those who were not athletic.

Reilly then selected the top talent from the competition and produced a show with a troupe of those people, calling it Tops in Blue. Various Tops in Blue campaigns have performed at Super Bowl XIX and the 2002 Daytona 500.

The official Web site also includes information on the 2005-06 tour and details on how to join the Tops in Blue team.