Just Jim Dale
“Just Jim Dale” at the intimate Roundabout theatre ("The Road to Mecca," "The Threepenny Opera") near Bryant Park offers a garland of goodies from delight-meister Jim Dale, a thesp wit’ de best. Just Jim Dale is a piquant, effervescent mix -- UK Music Hall, vaudeville-style schtick, classic theatre outtakes, reminiscences and ha-ha riffs on Harry Potter.
Um, maybe the word schtick is slightly misleading. That word provides a hint of slightly non-U humor and devices. It is not the consummate expression of a merry jokester like the ineffable lithe stage presence of Jim Dale.
Two-time Grammy Award® and Tony Award® winner Jim Dale (né Jimmy Smith) provides a classy performance, with memory of the UK, his roles in serious films (Joe Egg), his award-winning song for “Georgie Girl” and his bravura all-voices audio series of the complete 7-book series of Harry Potter. He does funny walks, recalling how, as a small child at the Music Hall in his tiny town, he was bowled over by the audience guffawing at the clown acts of the comic. At 7 or so, he decided he wanted to be making audiences laugh like that.
Directed by Tony winner Richard Maltby, Jr. ("Fosse," "Ain’t Misbehavin’"), “Just Jim Dale” is a recharging station, a laugh-jogging, no-scatology (except for his mock-mumbled irk whenever he mentions Harry Potter) tour-de-force. At the Roundabout until mid-August, Just Jim Dale is bracing, particularly if your theatre memory extends to the delightful “Pete’s Dragon,” to the “Carry On” series, pieces from the 70s, and if you are familiar with both Oscar Wilde… and Will Shakespeare.
If you’re partial to the Bard, Dale does a remarkable wraparound… rap around… Shakespeare in our everyday expression -- even if you think nary a word of Will Shakes ever passes your lips. Dale goes up hill and comes down, well, dale, as he flounces and flaunts the endless skeins of daily phrases and vocabulary doilies that stitch our speech. None of several thousand words and phrases would even be found in the language but for Stratford Will.
Best to see the show with locals, as the Wednesday tourist crowd tends to be a “feed me!” crew -- they don’t brighten at the plays native Yorkers have been savoring for decades.
Dale inhabits the stage without a drop of support for 90 minutes -- other than his rotund piano accompanist, Mark. The slim and fit Dale does not disappoint.
Even if you’re a career-class grump, this will jolly you.
And the kicker?
This sprite-like talent-rich prankster is an amazing 78. Performing a 90-minute set sans intermission, 6 days a week. Quite the magic.