PETULA TO JOIN THE CAST OF MARY POPPINS IN LONDON
Opened 13 November, 2019
After a 22 year absence from the West End, Petula is now starring in a featured role as the Bird Woman in the current revival of the classic musical, Mary Poppins. Petula sings the iconic song "Feed the Birds," and in recognition of Petula's musical abilities, the show's producers have expanded the role so that she is also featured in the "Anything Can Happen," number.
Without a rest from her grueling Blood Brothers tour in the USA, Petula was asked to play Norma Desmond in Andrew Loyd Webber's Sunset Boulevard in London's West End. Petula thought she wouldn't be right for the part, but fortunately Trevor Nunn was able to convince her that she'd be "marvellous." Trevor honored Petula at a "This Is Your Life" taping (Petula's third) by stating unequivocally, "Petula is the real thing!"
Petula performed in Sunset for what everyone believed would be the final time before a packed house in London's West End on April 5, 1997.
The following year, Petula (missing "Norma") embarked on an 18 month U.S. tour and became the longest running Norma to date.
Billy Russell's contemporary prince-and-pauper musical tragedy set in Liverpool, is overlong by a fourth, boasts two songs worth a damn, no dancing, grown actors playing children, shuddery portents of doom, rhyming verse monologues and enough shmaltz to keep the Carnegie Deli in chopped liver well into the next century. The critics HATED it, and soundly (and loudly) predicted its demise. However, audiences that defied the critics and actually went to see the show loved it. Still, ticket sales floundered until an inspired bit of casting paired brothers, David and Shaun Cassidy and Petula Clark as their mother, in the leading roles. Audience attendance soared and the show boasted a standing ovation every performance for the duration of the run.
"Petula's extraordinary successful recording career has been well documented - when she took over in the Broadway production of Blood Brothers she reminded us all of what an outstanding actress she has always been. She will hate me for saying this, but she is also the most humble, the most adorable, and the most loving leading lady I have ever worked with. And I thank her for that amongst many things." - Bill Kenwright, 1995
(From the liner notes of the "definitive recording" of Blood Brothers with Petula and David and Shaun Cassidy by First Night Records.)
Someone Like You was touted as a "passionate musical love story born from the ashes of the Civil War" and opened in October of 1989 in Cambridge, England, playing provincially in five theatres to generally good notices before its transfer to the West End the following year. The show made its debut at the Strand Theatre, London on 22 March 1990 and closed a month later.
This project was Petula's "baby" for quite a number of years--from the germ of an idea hatched by Petula and Ferdie Pacheco, to a book by Robin Midgley and Fay Weldon, with music by Petula Clark and lyrics by Dee Shipman. The show's abrupt, and unexpected, closure (due primarily to a producer rumored to have had serious cash flow problems from a previous production) was a bitter disappointment for Petula. Among Petula fans, the show is remembered with great affection and a fervent desire for a "revival" somewhere in the States, or at very least, a complete show soundtrack.
The only songs from Someone Like You (or SLY as Pet calls it) released so far can be found on a single released by First Night Records: "Someone Like You" sung by Petula Clark and Dave Willetts / "Getting The Right Thing Wrong" sung by Petula Clark. The latter can also be found on the Petula Clark Anthology: Downtown to Sunset Boulevard.
Among the audience on opening night, August 18, 1981, sat [the real] Baroness Maria Von Trapp. After the performance she told Ross Taylor, "If I never see The Sound Of Music again, this is the way I want to remember it -- and I want to remember Petula's performance as the greatest performance of Maria."
The Sound of Music boasts the record for the highest attendance figure for a single week (October 26-31, 1981) of any British musical production in history. The 2600-seat theatre played to 101 percent of seating capacity. [The Guinness Book of Theatre]
A stage soundtrack of this musical was released on vinyl and both a streaming version and a CD are now available on Amazon.
British Pantomime stage show based on the fairy tale and performed during the Christmas/New Year Holiday. Petula starred as Princess Marigold and wore elaborate princess costumes. The production featured a great deal of slap-stick, music, and comedy. This was Petula's only appearance of this kind.