She's a stage star in London, but here in American Petula Clark is best known as the pert English '60s pop artist who sang that things will be great "Downtown." And that's just what she'll be singing on Friday, Nov. 30, at 2 PM in Washington Square Park, as part of an event that may turn into a promotional spot advertising the allures of the downtown theatre scene. She will be joined by members of nearly every show and theatre company below 14th Street, many of which have been hurting for business since Sept. 11.
The event is the work of a new outfit called DowntownNYC!, a coalition of art and business groups. The organization will launch a new website called downtownNYC.info, which will provide information on shows, restaurants, galleries and discount programs.
The singing of "Downtown" is the Off-Off-Broadway set's answer to a recent Broadway commercial, in which Great White Way artists belted out "New York, New York" in Times Square. For now, the Nov. 30 gathering is just a publicity event. However, the chorus will be taped and a commercial spot may be created in the weeks to come.
Among the theatre companies expect to take part are: Acting Shakespeare Company, CAP21 Theatre, Castillo Theatre Company, Classic Stage Company, Collision Theory, Drama Department, Flea Theatre, HERE Arts Center, Hourglass Group, Irondale Ensemble, Jean Cocteau Rep, MaYi, Manhattan Ensemble Theater, New Georges, No Pants Theatre, Pearl Theatre, Public Theatre, Salt Theatre, Surf Reality, Target Margin Theater, Theatre for a New Audience, Vineyard Theatre and Westbeth Theatre.
Artist expected to be on hand include: Harvey Keitel, Eric Bogosian, Spalding Gray (of Soho's The Wooster Group), Molly Ringwald And Joey Macintyre from tick, tick...Boom!, cast members from Bat Boy, La MaMa's Bed of Light, Blue Man Group, De La Guarda, Cherry Lane's Havana Is Waiting, Mono, Aquila's Much Ado About Nothing, Naked Boys Singing, Rattlestick's Neil's Garden, Our Lady of Copper, Back It Up's Pink Elephants, Six Goumbas and a Wannabe, Summer of '42, MCC's The Glory of Living; Soho Playhouse's Underneath The Lintel, Repertorio Espanol's Volvio Una Noche; and Theater for the New City's Wise Guise. And they won't go hungry. Staff from the restaurants Chez Jacqueline, Le Pescadou and Provence are also expected. Petula Clark happens to be in town at the moment to promote her new PBS Special "Petula Clark in Concert: A Sign of the Times" to be broadcast nationally on PBS in December. Clark starred in Blood Brothers on Broadway.
—By Robert Simonson