Petula Clark
Petula Clark
Don't spread it around, but there's a time machine at Feinstein's at Loews Regency. How else to explain the club's incredible knack for snatching long unseen stars from decades past and bringing them to the present, looking hardly the worse for wear? The latest example is 79-year-old British songstress Petula Clark -- and her first New York nightclub engagement since the 1970s proves to be a triumphant evening that was well worth waiting for.

Clark looks, moves and sounds decades younger, and while her voice has inevitably deepened, she's still perfectly capable of hitting the high notes when she needs to, and her superb technique takes care of the rest.

Performing with a four-piece band, Clark demonstrated the breadth of her stylistic range, singing standards by Porter and Gershwin, including an amusingly droll rendition of "Miss Otis Regrets" inspired by Peggy Lee.

She also delivered a gorgeous take of "You and I" from the film musical Goodbye Mr. Chips, in which she starred, and a fully acted-out rendition of "With One Look" from Sunset Boulevard, which she did in London and on a US tour.

Of course, much of the crowd came to hear her pop hits -- and what fun hits they are. The audience swooned repeatedly upon hearing the opening notes of songs like "Don't Sleep in the Subway," "I Know a Place," "Sign of the Times," "This is My Song" (written by Charlie Chaplin), and, of course, "Downtown," which quickly became a sing-along.

She reprised the latter song with a hilariously rewritten version lampooning the profusion of drug stores in the city, entitled "Duane Reade" (written by Barry Kleinbort), and her willingness to have fun with her past was also demonstrated with a rollicking country music arrangement of "My Love."

Along the way, she also sang a sensitive version of "La Vie En Rose" in French while accompanying herself on the piano; recited a touching poem she wrote about the healing power of theater; and dished anecdotes about her lengthy career. All were elements of a truly dynamic show by a consummate performer.