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 The performance was filled with historical references, '40s vernacular, as well as a wide variety of gorgeous, relevant costumes.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!