Looking lovely and elegant as ever, Petula Clark is making her debut at the Riviera's Versailles Room; the showroom, like any room she plays, is quickly and easily hers. Clark continues to be one of the most expressive vocalists and charming personalities on either side of the Atlantic. Petula's off-the-cuff witticisms are zany and unexpected gems.
Musically, she has no limitations. She's as comfortable with intense selections such as "Fool on the Hill" as she is with a just-for-fun "Gypsy"; as familiar with contemporary music like "Feel Like Making Love" as she is with her own long list of hits, including the ever-new "This Is My Song."
New in this outing is her mini-medley to fellow Scorpios like Richard Burton, Spiro Agnew, Grace Kelly, etc., and a lovely "God Bless the Child" dedicated to her son.
"Loving Arms," Clark's new record release, is also spotlighted in the show. A trio of femmes adds backup vocals when appropriate.
Frank Gorshin moved from headliner to opening act November 22 and did his headline act, a good 15 minutes more than he should be allowed on stage... The act gets longer and longer and more repetitious.
Petula Clark is a delight. It is a credit to her amazing talent that she was not only capable of waking up a stone cold crowd but keeping them alert and happy. She's a lady and it shows both in her selections and manner of delivery. Newly signed to ABC, she sang her first release, "Loving Arms."
Her Scorpio medley is brand new. It features shots of famous Scorpios on a movie screen with songs to fit their occupations, personalities, love life. It was a cute segment. Over half the act is composed of her record hits. "I Got a Name," which she opens with, is followed by "Let's Put It All Together" and "Feel Like Making Love." Vocally she has never sounded better.
The Riviera Hotel's Versailles Room is just about the classiest showroom in Las Vegas: intimate, comfortable and a showcase for nothing but the best of the "class acts." Such superstars as Barbra Streisand, Liza Minnelli and Herb Alpert have chosen the room in which to present their special sounds.
And there currently, in keeping with such polished practices, Petula Clark and Frank Gorshin are now providing their special brand of first-rate entertainment.
Stepping out on the Versailles Room's stage, it took headliner Petula Clark no more than two seconds to prove that she's a star. But it took those gems of pop perfection Tony Hatch created for her in the Sixties to make her an international one: "I Couldn't Live without Your Love," "Color My World," "Don't Sleep in the Subway" and of course "Downtown," the monstrous little chart-topper that started it all.
As she has said herself in an interview given during her not-so-long-ago Top 40 heyday, she doesn't have the vocal equipment of a Barbra Streisand. You can feel her struggles for certain high notes, but what she does have is far more important: high style, much more than just a touch of class, and you honestly believe everything she sings.
Those who keep thinking of Petula Clark as merely a bouncier version of Helen Reddy with a British accent should see her live. Maybe she'll seem to you like the important entertainer she most definitely is. Though some of her material has already been pounded into the Muzak boneyard through countless renditions by everyone from Frank Sinatra to the Ray Conniff Singers, she could probably sing the exit signs on the Pasadena Freeway and sound refreshing.
She turns Lennon and McCartney's "Fool on the Hill" into her own "magical mystery tour." And on Carole King's fine but oh-so battle-weary "You've Got a Friend" she almost makes you forget about those times you said, "If I hear another version of that song I'm going to scream."
And, of course, she sang "Downtown," "My Love," "Don't Sleep in the Subway" and a couple more of her long string of hits, and sang them as though she didn't care at all about all of those empty tables and chairs in the Versailles Room. Whether it be inflation, preparation for the holidays or a gigantic traffic tie-up on all the roads leading to Vegas, the dinner show was sparsely attended on Tuesday night. And performers as special as Petula Clark and Frank Gorshin should be playing to packed houses every time they take to the stage.