Saturday, October 22, 2011

Show & Tell: In the Mood

Well, hi-dee-ho! I had the privilege of heading to a real humdinger of a show last night.

In the Mood transported its audience to another time and place. From the moment I walked in the Fox Cities Performing Arts Center and viewed the simple and traditional bandstand set to its last soulful notes, it was as if I had stepped back in time to the 1940s. The performance was filled with historical references, '40s vernacular, as well as a wide variety of gorgeous, relevant costumes. Throughout the show, I could almost see a family in 1940, circled comfortably around their radio, enraptured by the smooth sounds of swing and jazz and interspersed with the mellow voice of the announcer. In addition to being an era when our country was united by the passions and fears of war, it was the last decade that the United States was also united by their love of the same music style.

The thirteen piece band brought a lot of fun to the performance and were astoundingly talented, even occasionally switching instruments from song to song. And really, who can't fall in love with a band that includes a stand-up bass? Each musician was given their chance to shine, but the audience seemed especially smitten with the drummer, who wowed the group with his stellar drum solos and jazzy riffs.

The singers and dancers were wonderful as well. Their harmonies were "heavenly", just as the MC promised us from the beginning. Each one was also more than capable of standing on their own to solo. Their performance included more than one laugh-out-loud moment, and at times they left the audience in stitches. But they weren't just pleasing to the ears, their swing dancing was fun to watch and performed with incredible skill. The cast could Charleston and jitterbug with the best. A few minor technical difficulties with their mics didn't phase them at all, and their professionalism shined through.

In the Mood covered a wide variety of the decades songs and styles, including Latin rhythms, country, polka, and patriotic numbers. Some of my personal favorites were "At Last", made most famous by Etta James, performed as a tender duet; "Hey! Ba Ba Re Bop", which the audience was invited to heartily participate in; "Say That We're Sweethearts Again", which had the entire audience rolling; and, my favorite swing song, "Sing, Sing, Sing", always a hit. But the most touching musical moment of the night was definitely when the cast honored service men and women in the audience by having them stand and singing the anthem of each branch of the United States military.

As an enthusiastic member of the audience, I have to include the fact that I appreciate In the Mood filling in unexpectedly after an unexpected schedule change. I don't think anyone in the audience was sorry for the switch!

In the Mood was a fun and refreshing look back in time. If it makes its way through the Fox Cities P.A.C. again, make your plans to attend. It will really flip your lid- and how!


  1. Sarah you nailed this review. I had seen "In the Mood" a few years ago when it came to the Performing Arts Center. I was so moved by the performance that I purchased a CD after the show, not that I could get those melodies out of my head anyway. I was born in 1941 and my Dad served in World War II so I grew up with the music of the forties and fifties. The cast and the String of Pearls Orchrestra did a fantastic job of recreating that era and the timeless songs that meant so much to our country at that time. I was pleased that the cast showed its patriotism and honored all of us veterans in attendance. I would encourage everyone who missed the show this time to make sure they catch it when it returns to the Fox Cities Performing Arts Center.

  2. Thank you so much, Walt! Your encouragement means a lot. It's neat to hear the show meant so much to you!