In the script to "Blood Brothers," David Cassidy's character Mickey bonds with his unknown twin. In their Broadway run and on the road, it is Cassidy and British co-star Petula Clark who have formed a bond of friendship, the two say.
It was the unlikely casting of the two one-time pop stars that inched "Blood Brothers" into the money and new acclaim on Broadway in 1993. Adds Cassidy, "sharing it with someone you become friends with is a wonderful life experience, more than just a career experience."
Though both had acted before this, each was only familiar with the other's musical work, with Clark--who starred in "Finian's Rainbow" and "Goodbye, Mr. Chips"--claiming to have never seen a "Partridge Family" episode. She didn't have any apprehensions about working with a former teen idol, saying she's not inclined to prejudge people. "But still, I had no idea how very good he would be," she said.
"First of all, he came into the producer's office in London for the first reading of the script with the perfect Liverpool accent, and mine certainly wasn't ready. And he was incredible at the reading. I mean, we were all in tears. I'm thinking, 'What is this ?' And it just went on from there. He does give a most wonderful performance in this, and to be perfectly honest, I wasn't ready for that."
Cassidy was similarly struck at that first reading, saying, "I was certainly aware of her vocal talent; that's part of what we all heard on the radio in the '60s. I didn't realize she was as accomplished and good an actress as she is. She bowled me over the way she just lept into it."
Most Americans weren't aware of Clark until her string of hits in the mid-'60s British Invasion days (those songs included "Downtown," "My Love," "I Know a Place," "A Sign of the Times" and "Don't Sleep in the Subway"), but she had been a child star in England, singing and acting during World War II.
Though both she and Cassidy found stardom early in their lives, she doesn't see much of a parallel between her experiences and his rocky times.
"David's experiences have been a bit more dramatic than mine. He was brought up in a show business atmosphere with his father (the late actor Jack Cassidy) being this omnipresent, charismatic character. And it was an extraordinary thing that happened to him becoming an idol.
"I came from a non-show biz background, just an English middle-class family, with a very strict upbringing. And you have to remember when I was a kid, the (war) was going on, and it was a very strange atmosphere anyway. We were all living in bomb shelters, and I think any of the kids who grew up at that time were living a strange existence. So I think I was able to overcome all that stardom stuff very easily. David's experiences have been different from mine."
Now they help each other make it through eight emotionally grueling performances a week. "I feel there is a great trust there, a mutual trust. I have such respect for her and really love playing with her," Cassidy said.
"David is absolutely professional," Clark said, "and not in that slick, finger-popping 'Hey man, I'm ready' sense of the word. That's not the kind of professional I am, and David's not either.
"I think that's why we get on well. He has his self-doubts; he's a very human and sensitive actor. There are times when I just have to put my arms around him and say, 'Hey, it's OK,' because he gets extremely emotional during this play. And he does wipe himself out. It's the kind of play where by the end of each show we're all pretty well wrung out."