Petula Clark, always such a big favorite in her American appearances, has maintained her popular standing, in part, because of her continuing effort to change, broaden, adapt and surprise with her nightery shows. More sparkling and vivacious in person than any of her TV or film appearances have captured, Clark is at the Riviera with still another "new" Petula. Special guest stars the Righteous Brothers have reunited and have quickly caught up to where they were a few years ago before their split.
By herself, Petula, is always a musical treat. The "Downtown" lady is an uptown entertainer with a varied musical repertoire. Add the distinctive creative touches of notables~like Allan Carr, Marvin Hamlisch, Billy Barnes, etc., and Petula is embarking on an entirely new phase of her relatively unsung talents.
Her new review could very well be subtitled "Why Not Petula?" - as in the special material number written by Barnes with his usual flair for showbiz wit and irony, and packaged by producers Carr and Claude Wolff. Petula's first Las Vegas production show is a sheer delight; she breezes through songs, dances, comedy bits and vigorous production numbers with the ease and charm of the veteran vaudevillian (that she is on the other side of the pond).
"Why Not Petula?" sets the theme for why singers have gone into production sequences, and what "images" other ladies have cast for themselves. Petula's "Striptease" shows off a bit of leg, a bare shoulder, and an enommously likable gift for comedy. Backed by a male quartet of singers-dancers called "Friends" (Jeff Holland, Jerry Evans, Kim Michaels and Larry Coles), Petula dons baggy pants and top hat to kick off a London music hall revue that is the highlight of her show. It's a multi-sequence number with several costume, mood and musical changes for Pet and her boys.
Choreographer Steve Merritt has captured a right flavor and lively tempo that is a perfect compliment to the star's versatility. Clark's drolly underplayed humor blends neatly with the scamper-banter doings. A final production number is from The Wiz with Petula wearing the Ruby Reds with lion, tin man and scarecrow associates for "Ease on Down the Road." Scattered throughout the show are songs like "You and I," "This Is My Song," "Too Shy to Say," etc., and, of course, a Clark standard, "I Don't Know How to Love Him," and several of her hit tunes. Frank Owens is musical conductor with the Dick Palombi orchestra; special musical arrangements are by Roy Rogosin and Darnell Pershing; gowns and costumes by Nolan Miller.
Petula Clark and the Righteous Brothers are a winning combination onstage and at the box office, and their current run at the Riviera could prove one of the highlights of the season. While the Righteous boys continue to accent rock -n- roll tunes which jetted them to stardom a decade ago, it's an entirely new and totally refreshing Clark this time around. Frank Owens batons the Dick Palombi orchestra for Clark.
Producers Allan Carr and Claude Wolff have surrounded the British star with a superb quartet of singers-dancers billed as Friends. They (Larry Coles, Jeff Holland, Jerry Evans, Tim Michaels) turn that segment of the show into a delightful mini-musical which is a page out of London music hall entertainment.
Departure from the demure, sophisticated British image is bound to work well for the Clark career. She is astonishingly versatile, a fact which the shy facade obliterated in years past when she was content to ride the crest of her record hits. Appreciative fablers rewarded her with a spontaneous and well-deserved standing ovation.
Fresh with four fantastic dancers and smashing musical production numbers, British song-star Petula Clark spotlighted her diverse talents in an all-new cabaret show ready to hit major nightclubs nationally. The ABC recording artist won the standing-room-only August 19 audience as she easily moved from her million-selling English hits of the mid-1960s to motion picture melodies and Broadway showstoppers.
Petula romped, dazzled and just plain outperformed her way through the fast-paced hour show, beginning with Leslie Bricusse songs from Goodbye Mr. Chips, which included the haunting "You and I" and a London music hall medley. She nearly stopped the show with a moving rendition of "I Don't Know How to Love Him," and served up a strong "This Is My Song," written by Charlie Chaplin for The Countess from Hong Kong. A jazzed-up, soul-rock "Downtown" followed "I Know a Place" and "Don't Sleep in the Subway" in her English hit medley.
Conductor-arranger Frank Owens, with Petula for ten years, paced the show through twelve super songs, which included a salute to the Beatles featuring the dancing and singing of Larry Coles, Jerry Evans, Jeff Holland and Tim Michaels. Billy Barnes' "Why Not Petula?" just may end up as Miss Clark's "Petula with a P." She sang the love song from the current Broadway smash hit A Chorus Line by Marvin Hamlisch, entitled "What I Did for Love." In her clear, strong voice she frolicked on the Yellow Brick Road in "Ease on Down the Road" from the black musical The Wiz.
In her third engagement for the Riviera, Petula has outgrown her "girlish" image and reached her deserving stardom as an international lady of song and entertainment.