“I Get A Kick Out of Cole” – Theater Works

This review aired on KBAQ September 15, 2014


Theater Works
Peoria, AZ

Cole Porter wrote sophisticated songs with clever lyrics for a myriad of musicals he created from the late-20s through the mid-50s.  His most famous were “Anything Goes,” “Can-Can,” and his masterpiece “Kiss Me, Kate.”

From Porter’s vast repertory of classic hit tunes, Steve Hilderbrand and Gary Gallner string 50 of the best together with an interesting commentary of Porter’s tragic life to create a new cabaret revue, “I Get A Kick Out of Cole.”  They use a chic unit set, nine solid singers who provide pleasant song renditions, costume the cast in attractive gowns and appropriate formal attire, and have a sharp three-person band play the tunes with verve.

But “I Get A Kick Out of Cole” is not quite flawless.  To successfully present Porter song hits, the production must have a sophisticated air and impeccable aplomb to bring the requisite style to Porter’s sparkling and effervescent tunes.

The one thing missing from “I Get A Kick Out of You” is that limpid sophistication.  The show has delicious tunes, enough biographical detail about Porter’s troubled life to keep audiences interested without boring them with unnecessary minutiae but the production too often seems like a raucous jam session for a succession of modern tunes that lack Porter’s witty banter and repartee.  Too often the performers reach for easy laughs and they never appear to be sure of where they next move so the production seems awkward.  Since the talent can sing the songs well enough, the necessary chic arrogance and sly malarkey might come as the show’s run continues.  If you love Porter songs and who doesn’t, wait until the revue’s final weekend so the performers can find the best way to present these tricky tunes.

One couple, Brenda and Ken Goodenberger, handle the show’s stylish sophistication best while Tony Blosser is always stressing the ridiculous jokes that takes the edge off his songs.  Dominik Rebilas and Roger Nelson are most uncomfortable with the stylishness necessary to convey their songs effectively.  Kathleen Berger’s singing accomplishments insure that she brings the right look and sound to her tunes and Alexandra Utpadel brings a refreshing child-like innocence to her songs.  Marie Gouba and Alanna Kalbfleisch add nice vocals but bring little refinement to their tunes.

But it’s hard to go wrong with such a generous collection of great Cole Porter song hits like “I Love Paris,” “Love For Sale,” “You’re the Top,” “Night and Day,” “Begin the Beguine,” “My Heart Belongs to Daddy,” and “I Hate Men” so “I Get A Kick Out of You” entertains but it rarely delights.  For tickets, call the Theater Works box office at 623-815-7930 or order online at www.theaterworks.org.

Grade: C