A brassy tribute to the 1940s swing era, “In The Mood,” is a big-band music revue that has been touring all over the world — and now, in its 21st year the show makes its first stopover in New Orleans with two performances at the Saenger Theatre on Friday.
Creator and producer of “In The Mood,” Julliard-trained pianist and conductor Bud Forrest, leads his 13-piece big band, six singers and dancers in a two-hour variety show that honors such musical legends as Glenn Miller, Tommy Dorsey, The Andrews Sisters and big band greats of the ’40s.
“It is American popular music, so everyone is familiar with something in the show,” Forrest said. “These are great American songs and American lyrics that are all tied in with one of the most significant decades of the 20th century, pre-World War II.”
The music of the show is the story, a story that flows together seamlessly with singer and narrator Ryan Phillips relaying to the audience what they are to expect in the coming numbers, which include “Chattanooga Choo Choo,” “Moonlight Serenade” and, of course, “In The Mood.”
In the 1940s, American music connected people on the home front with soldiers at war — inspiring people with a hopeful vision of the future.
“The big bands were such a center point of that era,” Forrest said. “The melodies, rhythms and sounds are still with us today.”
The jitterbug, the waltz and the fox trot are just some of the dances that have been choreographed to the music, giving audiences a glimpse into a nostalgic period of America’s history.
“So much of this music is still relevant in the modern era — even if you weren’t alive during WWII you can still see how it affected 60 to 90 million people who were involved in the war,” said Forrest. “There was only 130 million Americans then. Today there are 317 million ... It was a very different time.”
The revue evolved over a five-year period, starting off with arrangements by The Andrews Sisters.
Since 1994, Forrest and the changing cast of “In The Mood” have traveled to 48 states and abroad, taking the show as far south as Australia.
During the last two decades, “In The Mood” has been part of the National Archives commemoration of the 50th anniversary of World War II, which took them on a series of tours, and was part of the entertainment for the 53rd Presidential Inauguration Ball, as well as the national touring event for the celebration “Spirit of ’45.”
“It is a family show for all generations,” Forrest said. “Whether you are interested in the dancing, the singing or the big band, the show is a real cross section of the whole genre.
“It is very patriotic and nostalgic and it is very jazzy and brassy ... We have a really wonderful time on the stage doing the show and we hope it comes across to the audience.”