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Newton-John as dazzling as ever

Olivia Newton-John sang hits such as "Xanadu" and "Physical" to a sold-out crowd Friday night at the Turning Stone Casino Resort in Verona.

To me Olivia Newton-John would always be the sweetheart of Rydell High.

It was hard to picture her any other context. But if it was possible, she is even more beautiful now, And still a sweetheart.

Olivia Newton-John sang hits such as "Xanadu" and "Physical" to a sold-out crowd Friday night at the Turning Stone Casino Resort in Verona.

She entered the stage looking radiant in a sparkling two-piece gown and brown suede boots. The Australian signer/actress looked years younger than her age of 54.

She certainly had personality. Waving to her fans, she graciously accepted many rose bouquets and stuffed animals as she opened the show with "Have You Never Been Mellow"

"This is a beautiful place," she said about the casino, borrowing a gamous tune by The Knack to playfully sing a few lines of "My Verona."

She connected well with her band and back-up singers, incorporating them into each song as if they were just as much the stars of the show.

One of the best songs of the evening was "Love Is a Gift," a powerful ballad she wrote five years ago that focuses on new beginnings. She proceeded to bring back memories with a slow tempo version of "Physical," her mega-hit from 1981 that gave a racier edge to her image and stayed on top of the charts for weeks.

The song that best displayed her vocal range was "Over the Rainbow," which she said was her favourite oldies tune.

"This is a song of hopem and I think we need that in today's world," she added.

The highlighted of the evening came when the lights dimmed and Newton-john and her singers donned leather jackets to perform the much-awaited "Grease" songs.

"It amazes me how this movie never dies," she said about the classic film made in the 1978. The energy level rose another notch with "You're the One That I Want," and one could envision the closing carnival scene of the movie.

She invited everyone to sing along to "Summer Nights," and the crowd became entranced with "Hopelessly Devoted to You."

She received a standing ovation, but the crowd still wanted more. She gave in, saying, "I couldn't ever finish a show without singing this song."

With the orchestra hitting full stride, she reached into herself for a stirring rendition of "I Honestly Love You" - and I think she honestly did.

-- Observer-Dispatch Saturday, Jan. 11, 2003.





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