COURTESY ELISSA JOSEPHSOHN
"In the Mood" closes generation gaps with music that is both nostalgic and hip.
Revue brings big-band swing to isles
The touring caravan of dancers and musicians keeps that 1940s vibe alive
Bud Forrest figures that so long as there are veterans of World War II sitting in the audience, "In the Mood" will carry on like a trooper.
'In The Mood'
Place: Hawaii Theatre
Time: 7:30 p.m. Friday, and 2 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday
Tickets: $25 to $75, with discounts for theater members, seniors, youth and military
Call: 528-0506 or visit hawaiitheatre.com
The producer of the 1940s musical revue leads his touring caravan of dancers and musicians around the country. After their stopover at the Hawaii Theatre this weekend, the upcoming fall and spring tour will be its 15th.
"And we're getting bookings for 2010," he said by phone from a tour stop in Massachusetts last week, three-quarters of the way through its current tour that started back in early March. "We've put 20,000 miles on the bus, so we're definitely road-worthy."
"In the Mood" makes its second visit to Hawaii after debuting two years ago here, still evoking a time in American history when it seemed that all of the country fully backed the war effort.
"The music we play is still of the period, obviously," Forrest said, who's the conductor of the 13-member String of Pearls big band. "But the concept of the overall musical revue is still the same after all these years. The show has reached a high quality, with some of the musicians being with us for 10, 12 years, and singers and dancers upwards of six years."
After touring much of the country ("46 states, with four more to go"), Forrest hasn't tired of visiting "small towns, medium, large, with all of us gaining an education about the country through our traveling, each getting our own personal snapshots and reactions while on the road."
The impetus of creating "In the Mood" back in the mid-'90s was "the 50th commemoration of World War II events," Forrest said. "Now we're starting to lose a great deal of that generation that lived back then, and the next generation, the baby boomers, want to know what their parents did for entertainment. And with the current crop of kids who like swing music, we get a good deal of teens and college students at our shows."
Seeing "In the Mood" is akin to stepping back in time, "with a retro look, as if a band is visiting from the 1940s."
But in a concession to updated technology, "our singers do wear wireless microphones to allow for more movement," he said. "But we do try to sample every style of music and dance in the two-hour show, showing different facets of the big-band sound and its soloists.
"I did a fair amount of research in putting together this revue. I originally asked Vic Schoen, who was a conductor and arranger for the Andrews Sisters, as well as a music director at Universal and Paramount Pictures, if he could do arrangements for us in as an authentic manner as possible. He agreed, and I'm very honored that he passed the torch to us."
Forrest Should never have to worry about keeping "In the Mood" going, considering that the revue features members of the long-standing Actors' Equity Association, which represents more than 45,000 actors and stage managers on Broadway and throughout the United States.
"Every year, we hold auditions in New York, and there's a backlog of people calling me, wanting to join the tour."
The current tour accommodates 23 performers. Coincidentally, two of Forrest's swing dancers who've been with the show for six years, Brian Caplan and Christina Ames, will end their tour of duty, so to speak, by getting married here on the 24th.
Forrest is glad the show is returning to the historic Hawaii Theatre, an important venue itself during the war years.
"We encourage all veterans of all wars to come," he said. "We take time out during the show to honor them. And for folks who've never heard a big band, they'll get a real flavor of what it was all about.
"This was the last time all Americans were listening and dancing to the same kind of music," he said. "When we were thrown into the war, the music was the binding force, and it not only helped us win the war, but it had the spirit behind it that helped unify us as a country."