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A Closer Listen: Johnny Mathis and Kampus Kapers

December 14, 2006

The Chicken's Ball and Kampus Kapers, SF State's memorable annual student variety shows of the 1940s and '50s, launched many show business careers -- including that of Johnny Mathis.

Alumnus Tony Rizzi recalls watching an 18-year-old Mathis perform on stage for the first time in the 1955 show produced at the then brand-new McKenna Theatre. The song, "Shadows on My Heart," was written by alumnus Richard Vartanian, who composed many of the songs in the revue and directed the full student orchestra. "John blew the audience away," Rizzi says.

This historic performance at SF State is believed to be Mathis' first recording: click here to listen (MP3 format requires Quicktime or Real Player).

For more on SF State's annual variety shows through the years, visit "That's Entertainment! Student Revues at SF State," a free exhibit open Monday through Friday from 1 to 5 p.m. through March 1, 2007, in the Frank V. de Bellis Reading Room located on the sixth floor of the J. Paul Leonard Library.

Sponsored by the Archives/Special Collections Department, the exhibit includes Vartanian's original score for "Shadows on My Heart," images from Kampus Kapers as well as from San Francisco State's earlier student revue The Chicken's Ball.

For more information, contact curator Meredith Eliassen at (415) 338-1856.

-- Public Affairs & Publications


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Last modified December 14, 2006 by University Communications