A Hard Act To Follow:
A Music Hall Review

Peter Leslie / 1978

Paddington Press / ISBN 0709204663

There a a difference between "music hall" and "vaudeville", albeit one so subtle most people
refuse to recognize it. I've been trying for over forty years (at this writing) to read and learn
as much as I can about theatre, but it is still an elusive subject for me -- and I think I've
finally realized why. It's because you've got to have been there. Nothing else will do.

Nothing you read, nothing anyone tells you, not even the salvaged clips from old movies will
leave you with the understanding that an evening at the Palace at its best would imprint on you.

And English music hall is the same for the British audiences... something that has to be indulged
in, not researched. The artists ( and yes, these are "artists" in every sense of the word) who reach
out and touch the innards of their audience members know the language, the steps and the "flair".
They know when an ethnic joke will be funny or when it will bomb, or if they don't they learn fast.

Among all the stories, look for "Little Tish", a short burlesque comic with a long list of tricks!

And on page 27, where it says, "the term Vaudeville is thought to be a corruption of Voixdeville
('voices of the town') -- songs of the people or stories performed on the city streets. The term was coined in
1792 when a Theatre de Vaudeville opened in Paris. Using comic dialogues as interludes between opera acts
was called pieces en vaudeville in the early 1800s, but the first recorded American use of the word was
in 1871 when 'Sargent's Great Vaudeville Company' (billed as being from the National Theatre in Cinncinnati)
opened at Weisiger's Hall in Louisville, Kentucky."

dimensions: 9.8 x 7.4 x 1 in / 2 lb / 256 pages

Return to Book Page