CLAIRE Worboys will appear as the legendary music hall star Vesta Tilley, during an Armistice Centenary Concert in Pershore Abbey.

She will appear as the cross-dressing Vesta, a favourite with troops of the First World War, at the abbey on November 17, during a concert with the Worcester Philharmonic Orchestra.

The concert will begin at 2.30pm.

A spokesman said: “Claire has a wealth of theatre and television credits to her name internationally, in London, Birmingham and Worcester, including Shakespeare’s Lady Macbeth and Juliet, Hedda Gabler, Eliza (My Fair Lady) and many other principal roles.

“Claire also starred in the title role of Vesta, both stage and television adaptations. She will be taking the role of Vesta Tilley in our Armistice Concert, and will lead the audience in singing as well as performing solo.”

Vesta Tilley was a male impersonator from the music halls. Born in Worcester in 1864 she had a huge interest in theatre as a child.

She first wore male clothes on stage when she was just five years old. Later she became bored with her song and impressions acts declaring, ‘I felt that I could express myself better if I were dressed as a boy’. Success quickly followed and by 1874 she had made her London debut at the Canterbury Hall.

Tilley rehearsed her act down to the last detail, practising every word and every gesture.

She impersonated dandies and fops and her dress was so immaculate that she actually became a fashion icon for men. She delighted in revealing male foibles and eccentricities, which were especially appreciated by the women in her audiences.

The spokesman added: “Vesta never cut her hair short but wore it plaited into tiny braids and coiled around her head under a wig.

“During the Great War, she performed dressed as a soldier.” She was so successful in her portrayals of military men, the Army viewed her as one of the best Recruiting Sergeants they had, because it was not uncommon for male members of the audience to sign up immediately after a show.

Tickets and further details: 01905 353013.