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Draper Arts Gets in the Mood with Big-Band Performance

Sep 29, 2016 02:05PM ● Published by Kelly Cannon

By Kelly Cannon | kelly@mycityjournals.com


Residents enjoyed a big-band performance during In the Mood, a collaborative music and dance production on Sept. 9 and 10 at the Draper Amphitheater. The show drew dozens of audience members who enjoyed the late-night performance. 

The director, Valaura Arnold, described the show as a big-band extravaganza that highlights some of the most popular big-band tunes of the 1930s and 1940s. 

“It has a large cast. I think our cast was about 65 singers and dancers, all picked to do songs that highlight their specific style,” Arnold said. 

This was the fifth year In the Mood has taken place, though it usually happens earlier in the summer. However, due to scheduling at the amphitheater, it ended up happening during the fall this year. 

“It’s generally a summer program,” Arnold said. 

The annual tradition started when one of the members of the arts council, who used to direct big-band productions, really wanted to do a show to highlight that kind of music. 

To find the singers and dancers for the show, the Draper Arts Council holds open auditions. The call for auditions is posted both on the Draper Arts Council website and on backstageutah.com, though Arnold said a lot of the draw comes from word of mouth.

“We have a lot of people who do it who want to come back and sing again,” Arnold said. 

As far as the musicians, different big bands have been used over the years. 

“This year and last year, the core of the band has been the Riverton Jazz Band,” Arnold said. “And then they’ve used other musicians as they’ve needed them.”

Also new this year were new performers from years past. 

“Actually this year, we had a couple people audition who were just perfect for specific songs that I hadn’t done before,” Arnold said. “We were able to add a little bit more variety to it due to the new people who came.”

One of the main challenges for Arnold directing In the Mood is the music isn’t necessarily preset. 

“I have an idea of what I want to do but I need to hold auditions first and see what I have to choose from, who there is and what their specific skills sets are and then write a show around that,” Arnold said. “I also try to get the right balance of high energy numbers and ballads and torch songs versus comedic numbers. That’s tricky, trying to get a good balance.”

Arnold has a hard time identifying which number is her favorite because each one has its own unique quality.

“As far as band numbers and what the band plays instrumentally, it’s definitely ‘In the Mood’ or ‘Sing, Sing, Sing.’” Arnold said. “‘Sing, Sing, Sing’ is just so fun and the drummer gets to let loose. It’s kind of a funny number because it’s called ‘Sing, Sing, Sing’ but it’s just instrumental. And people cannot sit down. They just have to get up and dance.”

Arnold believes both of those songs are also the audience favorites. 

“‘In the Mood’ is the title of the show but also a wonderful hit that always pleases the crowd,” Arnold said. 

The audience attendance was lower than in years past. Arnold blames this on the event taking place the same day as the BYU-University of Utah football game but also on the chilly weather. 

“We usually do it in the summer so it’s usually warmer. Because it was in the fall, I think the coolness was a deterrent,” Arnold said. “I know last year, it was packed because we did it in the summer.”   

Local Life In the Mood big-band Draper Amphitheater

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