Today's listeners have thousands of music genres to choose from, and every individual has his or her own personal taste. But more than 50 years ago, everyone listened and danced to the same style of song: big band. To celebrate the bygone era of the 1940s, professional musician and conductor Bud Forrest created the live show In the Mood. Complete with 13 big-band musicians and six singers and dancers, In the Mood brings the music of Glenn Miller, the Andrews Sisters, Frank Sinatra, Benny Goodman, and more to the stage this Sunday at Parker Playhouse in Fort Lauderdale.
“People have a lot of memories of what is was like back then,” Forrest says. “It was a simpler time, and it really was the last time all Americans were listening and dancing to the same kind of music. You’ve got to keep in mind, there was no internet, no TV, no anything other than radio, records, and live concerts. That was it.”
In the Mood came together back in the early 1990s. Forrest had been playing piano for the United States Air Force Band with the Singing Sergeants in Washington, D.C., and decided to start a singing group inspired by the Andrews Sisters. It began with just three young ladies but grew as he kept adding more singers, musicians, and dancers, eventually becoming a well-known fixture in the community. When they were asked to perform on the steps of the National Archive Building on Constitution Avenue, they drew a crowd of more than 5,000 people. Afterward, the USO approached Forrest to partner with him to bring the show to audiences across the United States and has now been touring In the Mood since 1993. The only state they haven’t reached yet is Alaska.
A large part of the reason In the Mood captures the feel of the big-band era so well is because of the involvement of the late Vic Schoen, who recently arranged the music for Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga’s jazz album. He is perhaps best-known for his work arranging music for the Andrews Sisters and Universal and Paramount Pictures. Alex Sanchez, who has worked on 11 Broadway shows, choreographed all of the dancing. Forrest says the cast has been trained on what is was like to be a performer in the 1940s.
The second act of In the Mood includes a special tribute to those who've fought for our country.
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“A big part of the show is that we honor veterans, whether it be World War II veterans who are still with us or today’s veterans,” Forrest says. “There is so much of what this music illustrates that is relevant today; even though it was done way back then, it’s still valid for today’s Americans."
Forrest emphasizes that this is a family show where anyone from age 8 to 98 can attend. It runs at two hours and 20 minutes long with an intermission. "There’s no concrete, written story to In the Mood; the music is the story. We let the songs illustrate the spirit and energy of this music and the whole era.
“I wake up every morning and say thank you for this opportunity, because it really is a privilege to do this every day and to see smiles and tears on people’s faces,” Forrest adds. “These are American songs and American lyrics, and it doesn’t matter where you go, these songs, like ‘Tuxedo Junction,' ‘Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy,' or ‘In the Mood,’ are timeless and beloved by families everywhere.”
In the Mood: A 1940s Musical Review
3 p.m. Sunday, January 24 at Parker Playhouse, 707 NE Eighth St., Fort Lauderdale. Tickets cost $26 to $46 plus fees. Visit parkerplayhouse.org.