Ever wonder what happened to the British music hall? Well, like the Empire, it is a grand old institution that has not worn well with time.
Tessie O'Shea, who is billed as the "Grand Dame of the British Music Hall," is appearing at the Waaay Off Broadway this week (through Sunday). Her show features all the old show stopping tricks - fast-paced songs, witty segues, a bit of high hoofin' and some snappy patter - all of which are presented with verve and style, but to no avail.
She certainly gives her show a go, but her antics are somewhat creaky and the artful eccentricity which characterized the style at its best now seems contrived. She also is hampered by a musical backup group that has trouble keeping up with her unpredictable performance and the two mates accompanying her are merely lackluster troupers.
Tessie O'Shea thrives on memories and many of her anecdotes are delightful reminders of an exciting life in show biz. But the power of nostalgia only goes so far and does not always make for an entertaining present. Her musical style has faded into the past and there is no need for her to attempt to recapture it. The sun does set, after all.