Pollak Theatre took a trip back to the 1940s with “In The Mood,” a music revue that is in its 20th anniversary season. Audience members sang along to their favorite hits of the 1940s, complete with period costumes and a full orchestra.

The theater was almost completely full with an older audience. The woman next to me asked, “Are you enjoying this? You’re young for this kind of music. Everyone here is old.” I did, in fact, enjoy the show. Six talented singers showed off their skills with standards from the era such as “La Vie en Rose” (from Édith Piaf) and “All or Nothing at All” (from Frank Sinatra).

However, the cast weren’t the only ones singing. Plenty of audience members sang along to their favorite numbers, even when the cast wasn’t searching for audience participation. When the cast did try to ‘teach’ the audience the words to “Hey! Ba Ba Re Bop,” it seemed completely unnecessary. This audience knew what songs they were here to see.

Of course, the singers were not the only focus. The show paid particular attention to their String of Pearls orchestra. The orchestra made a big entrance with all but their cellist and pianist entering in from the audience to uproarious applause. The narrator (Joshua David Cavanaugh) was also sure to introduce each song’s soloist. The show even included multiple songs that were solely instrumental.

Gigi Scott from Ocean Township loved the band, despite 1940s music not being her typical choice of music. Scott said, “I liked the fact that the musicians are so professional. Their work is up there. There’s not a flaw, so I really enjoy that. It’s the same way when you go to Broadway because the guys are sitting in the pit but you can hear them because they are very, very accurate in the way they play. To play with so many people you have to be accurate, otherwise it would be a cacophony.”

The cast also had some snazzy dance routines.  Theresa Horan from Atlantic Highlands admired one particular dance. She said, “I loved everything. The music the dancing…that one particular dance number we liked with the nurse and the sailor.”

In the second act of the two hour performance, the concert became a USO show. It seemed like the show might take a depressing turn when Cavanaugh said, “War is everywhere. I’m headed to enlist.” Yet the show stayed upbeat. A USO show is still a swingin’ good time.

What also gained the hearts of many audience members was the military tribute. The cast invited  both veterans and active duty members of the Marines, Navy, Coast Guard and Army to stand up and be honored at different points in the song. Overall, there were more than 70 people who have served for America’s armed forces.

Pat Jemison really enjoyed this aspect. One of the people she was with was an Army veteran, and she said she would like to see that at more shows in the present day. “I loved everything about it, especially the patriotic part…I love when they do the patriotic things. See, our young people don’t do that and they should.”

For more on “In the Mood” check out inthemoodlive.com and for more from the university’s Center for the Arts, check out monmouth.edu/arts.

PHOTO TAKEN from inthemoodlive.com