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Time Out Theater Review: 'Just Jim Dale'

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Tony award winning actor Jim Dale has hit the stage with a new, one man show presented by the Roundabout Theatre Company. David Cote of Time Out New York filed the following review.

The title of the Roundabout’s latest off-Broadway show is a tad misleading: "Just Jim Dale?" There’s no “just” about triple threat Jim Dale. While it’s true, if you never saw Barnum on Broadway or listened to a Harry Potter audiobook, you might not be familiar with this British icon; but you will leave his autobiographical solo a fan.

Pianist Mark York provides a jaunty background score to the star’s reminiscences about boyhood days in music hall, success as pop singer-songwriter in the 1960s and as an actor in the British “Carry On” comedy films. Music hall, in case you don’t know it -- and Dale is happy to explain -- is the English form of Vaudeville, a variety tradition combining clowning, novelty songs and joke telling.

Dale trained as a dancer, and even at 78, he’s marvelously spry and graceful. The story Dale spins is standard rags-to-riches showbiz memoir: Bitten by the stage bug early and years honing his craft. What distinguishes him is the sheer variety of his output: Pop tunes, films, stage and audio. He penned the hit theme song to the movie "Georgy Girl." He appeared on Broadway in "A Day in the Death of Joe Egg" and won the Tony playing PT Barnum. Later in life Dale became the protean narrator behind the Harry Potter audiobooks. Every step of the way he maintains a boyish passion to make ’em laugh.

Savoring the spotlight with wolfish glee, Jim Dale’s raffish charm is irresistible. It’s like spending a magical evening with your favorite uncle—if he happened to be a master showman.

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