A curious but not altogether unpalatable pairing of three new Sahara stars marks the debut appearance of both Petula Clark and Sandler & Young. In their co-starring bow, there's a helpful similarity in their audiences as well as a very marked difference in their styles, material and presentation.
One of the most engaging, charming and versatile of singing stars, Petula Clark's major production hunk is a tribute to some great Broadway lady roles: Annie Oakley, Mary Magdalene and Charity Valentine. A Clark medley of hits includes "Downtown," "This Is My Song," "Don't Sleep in the Subway," plus a nice selection of new and old songs from "My Melancholy Baby" to "Land of Make Believe." She's backed by a trio of male singers-dancers called Friends and a trio of femme singers; the former get to solo in several spots and do a fine job executing the stylish choreography of Steve Merritt. The Jack English orchestra backs the show, conducted by Harold Wheeler.
There is a surfeit of music in this billing of Petula Clark and Sandler & Young, but enough contrast is shown within the two stylish acts to keep interest up for about 100 minutes. This is the first time for Clark and Sandler & Young at the Sahara, but all concerned win high marks with Congo Room audiences.
Clark's versatility in song and movement with her three male dancers springs from early English music hall years, one teaming in fact with Anthony Newley when they were both 15 or so. She displays unique wit in many instances when chatting about an upcoming song or merely passing the time of night with the payees.
Her best turn is the Broadway medley, designed as her tour de force, and it works with a stomping Annie Get Your Gun collection enforced by her dancing "Friends" and backed by an above average lady trio. The Sweet Charity sequence also holds peak interest, and in the finale of the medley, only her overwrought screaming on "I Don't Know How to Love Him" from Jesus Christ Superstar flaws the trilogy's impact.
Sandler & Young is a tough act to follow, but Clark manages to win her points before too long. Harold Wheeler conducted for Clark, Leo DeLyon for Sandler & Young, both from their piano perches.