To paraphrase William Butler Eates, "Young men have visions, old men play cabaret." Constant allusions to not being young were the only things flagrantly off-color in Jury's Irish Cabaret, the variety show from Dublin, which played Kennedy Center's Concert Hall on Saturday night and Sunday afternoon. Otherwise, the shadings of this show were predominantly pallid. Fred O'Donovan had built the program around a handful of aging males. They included Albert Healy, who was so persistent on his miked piano that the Irish harps, plucked by three young women, could hardly be heard. Michael O'Dea, an oozing tenor, crooned forever compared to the soprano, pert Theresa O'Dwyer. And the emcee, Chris Curan, told lame jokes about arthritic Romeos.
While these veterans held the stage, a regiment of "village girls" marched on and off to sing the songs and play the tunes of Ireland. There were just two lads for the dancing.
Irish dancing, akin to Scottish in the brilliance of its footwork, is distinguishing by the utter stiffness of the upper body. Except in partnership, the arms held rigidly down at the sides. The legs, beneath a kilt, work rapidly. There are plenty of brushes and flics when the dancers wear soft soft shoes, and the normal stance is high on the half toe. Done in shoes with hard soles and heels, these jigs become tap dances.
More time should have been given the dancers, to illustrate the relationship of Ireland's metronomic tapping to America's syncopted time step. Patrick Hayes (director of Washington Performing Arts Society, the cabaret's local sponsor), had described these two styles so vividly during a preview aired Saturday on Station WGMS, that one sat through an endless succession of banter, ballads and fashions waiting in vain for a comparative glimpse.