NY Theater Review by Sandi Durell
In the tradition of a great showman, Jimmy Smith – whoops, I mean Jim Dale struts his stuff at the Laura Pels –Roundabout Theatre in a trip down memory lane accompanied by the uber-talented Mark York on piano who, at times, also gets into the cleverly constructed act.
At the tender age of 78, Jim Dale is in fighting good physical shape (looking dapper in grey shirt and pants) as he humorously and poignantly recounts the whys and wonders of how, as a young boy, this son of a dad who worked in a iron foundry and mum in a shoe factory, with a granny who ran a theatrical boarding house in England, managed to make his way into the Music Halls knowing from the get-go that “this could be me!” Dad blessed him saying “learn how to move.”
Jim Dale did more than that, he memorized all the jokes he heard at the Music Halls, using them to bolster his growing career as a young theatrical wiz, and taking tap and ballet lessons as he practiced his comedy dance. What a treat to watch those legs move in rubbery fashion, tap and lithe movements. In fact, he was also a British pop star before anyone even knew The Beatles and played almost all the Shakespeare clowns.
Under the direction of Richard Maltby Jr., Jim fills the 90+ minutes with everything from song and dance to stunning reading of Noel Coward’s Fumed Oak. He’s deliciously charming pulling off the rapid fire “Museum Song” from Barnum (for which he won a Tony Award) and crooning “Me and My Girl.”
Co-songwriter, as well, for the Oscar nominated popular song from the same titled movie “Georgy Girl,” Dale shows off more of his acting abilities in a hilarious recounting of his audition for the producer.
Dale’s long and successful career are splayed out in a no-holds barred fashion and, for those on the younger side, yes, he’s the multi-voices in all seven of the Harry Potter books.
This is a lively, he’s-earned-the-right-to, one man show that is a fine lesson in the how-to’s of theater to be thoroughly enjoyed by anyone at any age. All I can say is, “Dick-A-Dum-Dum” – it’s more than Just Dim Dale!
*Photo: Joan Marcus
“Just Jim Dale” – Laura Pels Theatre, www.Roundabouttheatre.org
212 719-1300 thru August 10th, 1 hr. 35 minutes