October 6, 1976
The Waldorf's Empire Room, which opened with Britain's Petula Clark, is expected to have standup business during her engagement. She has come in with basically the same type turn as before, which is a heavily populated company with four boy dancers, three girl singers and a number of key musicians. She has learned to use this setup effectively so that she can emerge through all these foreign entanglements and register on her own. The extras enable her to catch her breath, change costumes and assess the situation out front.
Clark as a cafe attraction is considerably more stable than the pound. She has an engaging sound and a personable mien. Her catalog is well constructed, with only brief references to the tunes she popularized. Her big numbers medley from Broadway musicals adds to her stature, and an assortment of tunes from the standard and contemporary orbits gives her a wide range and variety. She has a lot of good movement in her act on her own. The boys are good dancers who, according to Clark, will go their own way at the end of this engagement to work at Reno Sweeney's. They are a lively group who work well with Clark in the production intervals. The three femme singers provide further vocal texture to the act.
Clark is alone onstage toward the end of the turn. Thus the excellent hand she received for her efforts is virtually earned as a solo performer. Her musical director is Harold Wheeler, who conducts the Deny Kravat orchestra authoritatively.
Source / date unknown
The Big Apple acquired an extra high-gloss shine Tuesday night with the opening of Petula Clark's great new show at the Empire Room of the Waldorf-Astoria. It was an electric evening. This was the first night of the Empire Room's new fall season, which promises acts that have proven their drawing power there in the past, including Miss Peggy Lee, Chita Rivera and Blood, Sweat and Tears. It was also a return visit for Miss Clark, who laid siege on our radios in the Sixties with hits like "Downtown" and "I Know a Place." Those early hits are in Miss Clark's show, but she gets these out of the way quickly and moves on to new territory, singing several up-to-the-minute songs and concluding with a most compelling interpretation of Chuck Manglone's "The Land of Make-Believe." She also does a medley of Broadway tunes from Annie Get Your Gun, Sweet Charity and Jesus Christ Superstar, and she manages to make each sound freshly minted. Appearing with Miss Clark is an attractive and very agile group called Friends, four young men led by blond-tressed Jeff Holland. They fill the brief spaces during Miss Clark's costume changes without letting the show sag for a minute, and they constitute a real plus. There is also a backup chorus of three women.
Miss Clark has acquired a gifted musical director, Harold Wheeler (who did the orchestrations for the Broadway musical The Wiz,) and she has brought along her own socko rhythm section. Her dazzling costumes (she's got 21 of them for the run of the show) were designed by Bob Mackie.
Petula Clark will be at the Empire Room, with two shows nightly except Sundays, until October 9. It is a splendid hour-plus of entertainment that doesn't let up until Miss Clark takes her final bow. Catch it if you can.