Olivia Newton-John residency in Vegas to have classic feel

As Olivia Newton-John prepares for her “Summer Nights” residency at the Flamingo starting April 8, she holds one Vegas memory close to her heart: her trips to the Strip with her recently departed sister, Rona.

“She loved Las Vegas and we used to go there to go shopping and to have lunch and to go see a show,” Newton-John said. “It’s a fun place for girls to go and hang out together and just celebrate life. It’s got everything.”

The singer and actress shot to international fame for her role as Sandy in the 1978 hit musical film “Grease,” but she was already performing regularly in Vegas by the ’70s. An opening act for such performers as Charlie Rich, the Smothers Brothers, Don Rickles and Eddie Rabbit, Newton-John has returned to Vegas intermittently since then to perform.

“I was working way, way back and got to see people like Sammy Davis Jr. and (Frank) Sinatra, so Vegas has been in my life a long time,” she said.

When she took in Donny and Marie Osmond’s show — performed in the same theater as Newton-John’s residency — the Australian sweetheart said she found the intimacy she sought for “Summer Nights.”

“I was really taken by the feeling in the room,” Newton-John said. “It’s a very cozy room and it’s kind of like old Las Vegas. It had booths still, which is really rare anymore, and I like that. I like the atmosphere.”

Newton-John said she plans on performing many of her hits, including “Suddenly,” her favorites from “Grease,” her ’80s anthem hit, “Physical,” and many more from her career that has spanned more than four decades. A video montage of her career and life highlights will be played during the show, perhaps to a song Newton-John sings alongside, she said.

“I’m excited to do this and I hope (fans) will come and visit me,” she said, noting that many of her friends won’t drive two hours to attend a concert, but will fly eight to visit Vegas. “Vegas is such an amazing destination.”

Newton-John performs at 7:30 p.m. on select dates April 8 – Aug. 30 in the Donny & Marie showroom at the Flamingo. Tickets start at $69.