THEATER : A Peek at Cole Porter : The Cal State Fullerton revue charms with snippets of biography yet frustrates with snatches of songs.


Anyone who’s heard of Cole Porter is probably familiar with his silky, suave hits like “I Get a Kick Out of You,” “You’re the Top” and “Let’s Do It,” special songs that are milestones of the American musical theater and of pop music in general.

But how many people besides dedicated Porter fans could hum the tune to “Find Me a Primitive Man,” “Kate the Great” or “The Tale of an Oyster”?

“The Decline and Fall of the Entire World as Seen Through the Eyes of Cole Porter,” a revue at Cal State Fullerton through Sunday, is a buoyant (though unevenly performed) production featuring some of Porter’s greatest hits but most interesting for its attention to these more obscure songs.


As with most revues, this one frustrates as well as charms. It’s always a kick to be treated to a wide range of tunes (34 in all), but it’s also annoying to only get snatches of the melodies and lyrics.

At least we don’t have to listen to a lot of celebratory gab between numbers. The occasional narration offers generally interesting details about Porter’s life, the history of the day and the making of the songs. It may not be useful to know that “You’re the Top” has eight refrains (one of which rhymes tonic with high colonic ), but it is amusing.

As for the cast, it’s good to keep in mind that most of the performers are students with voices “in training.” Simply put, full advantage is not taken of all the numbers: Some are decent, even personality-rich interpretations, while others need work.

Of the better singers, Hope Briggs stands out with a voice that is strong and mellowed and put to good use on the torchy “Hothouse Rose.” On the acting side, Jodi Julian brings a cockeyed Fanny Brice style to the proceedings.

The program notes are interesting, pointing out that Porter often was a victim of censorship who had to struggle to save his more risque lyrics.

The unsigned notes draw a parallel between Porter’s time and the current censorship hysteria abridging freedom of expression. There’s a lesson in that.


A Cal State Fullerton production of the Cole Porter revue. Directed by Dean Hess. With Hope Briggs, Rod Burton, Jeff Cadwell, Raphael Duran, Jodi Julian, Jodi Karem, Robin Kennedy, Sean R. MacArthur, Dyan McBride and Jeff Sudakov. Choreography by Roger Castellano. Set by Jason Touchman. Costumes by Karen Weller. Lighting by Robin Cossid. Makeup and hair by Abel Zeballos. Plays through Saturday at 8 p.m., with a Saturday matinee at 2:30 p.m. and a Sunday performance at 5 p.m., at Cal State Fullerton’s Performing Arts Recital Hall, near the corner of State College Boulevard and Nutwood Avenue. Tickets: $5 to $10. (714) 773-3371.