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When swing was king ....
Monday, 06 March 2017 11:49

‘In the Mood’ show lovingly recaptures spirit of ’40s

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The All-American “In the Mood: A 1940s Big Band, Swing Dance Musical Revue” was clicking on all cylinders on Feb. 7 in the U.S. Cellular Center’s Thomas Wolfe Auditorium in downtown Asheville.

Before a mainly older crowd of only 400 to 500 people, the 13-piece String of Pearls Big Band Orchestra and the hyperkinetic In the Mood Singers and Dancers, nevertheless, gave it their all. The two-set, two-hour show was split by an intermission.

Fittingly, the high-energy celebration of the swing music (and dance) that guided the nation’s spirit —in the 1940s — toward hope, promise and prosperity ended with a bang, triggering a standing ovation.

Celebrating America’s Greatest Generation, “In the Mood” featured the music of Glenn Miller, Tommy Dorsey, Artie Shaw, Benny Goodman, Harry James and Erskine Hawkins.

The singers-dancers included three men and three women — and they performed solo or in various group configurations.

However, it was the women, as a sassy, sexy vocal and visual trio, who truly fired up the show with their sizzling renditions of songs by the Andrews Sisters. 

The men — as a trio — performed a few well-received numbers by the Mills Brothers, but proved to be no match — based on the audience’s response — to the women performing as the Andrews Sisters.

The troupe also featured a dynamic East Coast Swing dance couple who were both high-stepping and high-flying.

Besides the stellar performances by the singers-dancers and orchestra, the show sparkled with authenticity in its musical arrangements, costumes and choreography.

Among the most memorable of the more than 50 songs performed were “Chattanooga Choo Choo,” “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy (of Company B),” “In the Mood,” “Tuxedo Junction,” “Sing, Sing, Sing,” “Sentimental Journey,” “Stardust” and “Dreams.”

The show bills itself as portraying the 1940s as “a time when America was in tune with sentimental ballads and up-tempo swing rhythms, where the waltz and the foxtrot competed with the wild, acrobatic jitterbug, jive and boogie-woogie hepcats on the ballroom dance floor.

Now in its 18th season of performances throughout the United States, Canada and Europe, “In the Mood” was performed at an Inaugural Ball for then-President Bill Clinton and selected by the World USO as an official entertainment for the 50th Commemoration of World War II.

“In the Mood” creator-producer-artistic director Bud Forrest, who also was the accompanist for the official U.S. Air Force Chorus, the Singing Sergeants, said of the show:
“Many of the arrangements were written by Vic Schoen, the conductor for the Andrews Sisters and musical director for Universal and Paramount Pictures. The songs are timeless and this production is as authentic as it gets.”



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