Veteran actor Jim Dale has a long history with Roundabout Theatre Company. Starting with one of Roundabout’s earliest successes, A Day in the Death of Joe Egg, Jim Dale has performed in five Roundabout productions over the last 30 years. In his brand new solo show, Just Jim Dale under the direction of Tony winner Richard Maltby, Jr. (Fosse, Ain’t Misbehavin’), Dale shares his passion for the stage as he recounts a lifetime of irresistible showbiz tales. We look back at some of his great roles at Roundabout below.
Jim Dale began working with Roundabout in our 1985 production of A Day in the Death of Joe Egg, directed by Arvin Brown. The play centers on Bri (Dale) and Sheila (played by Stockard Channing), the parents of a severely disabled child and the subjects of a devastating marital breakup. Employing antithetical jokes and recollections of the past, both parents beg the question “how do we go on?” amid such inexplicable and unalterable truths. Frank Rich of The New York Times claimed “Mr. Dale’s big moment [was] a harrowing fantasy of infanticide – a ghoulish practical joke that only a master comic actor could prevent from curdling.” For his performance, Dale received nominations for both the Tony and Drama Desk Awards for Best Actor.
In 1989, Jim Dale played Acting Captain Terri Dennis in Peter Nichols and Denis King’s farcical Privates on Parade, directed by Larry Carpenter. Centered on the fictional S.A.D.U.S.E.A. (Song and Dance Unit South East Asia), the play with songs details the experiences of a mostly gay British military Pierrot troupe. Mel Gussow of The New York Times hailed Dale’s performance, saying “As an actor, he is not satisfied with anything halfhearted.” Complete with drag performances of Marlene Dietrich, Carmen Miranda, and Vera Lynn, this Roundabout production showcased a young Donna Murphy and Simon Jones alongside Dale.
Jim Dale returned to Roundabout in 2006, working with director Scott Elliott and starring alongside Alan Cumming, Ana Gasteyer, Cyndi Lauper, and Nellie McKay in Brecht’s The Threepenny Opera. Brecht’s satiric production employs deliberately artificial and undeniably Brechtian methods to thrust audiences into the world of crime and prostitution of Victorian London, all the while portraying the murderous Mac the Knife seducing his various love interests. Earning himself another Tony nomination for Best Actor, “that marvelous trouper” (Ben Brantley, The New York Times) Jim Dale played Mr. Peachum, father of the mostly-virginal Polly Peachum.
Later that same year, Dale participated in an in-house playreading of Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw, reading the roles of Bystander and Alfred Doolittle. The reading was held in the American Airlines Theatre Penthouse Lobby and was directed by Todd Lundquist.
In 2011, Jim Dale returned to the American Airlines Theatre to star in the Broadway premiere of Athol Fugard’s The Road to Mecca, a story of an elderly woman attempting to transform her home into a dazzling work of art after the death of her husband. The widowed Miss Helen (Rosemary Harris) faces the conservative values of the village pastor, Pastor Marius Byleveld (Jim Dale), as he attempts to put Helen into an old-age home. Calling upon her lone friend and confidant, the young liberal teacher Elsa (Carla Gugino), Miss Helen faces the mounting pressure to abandon her independent life. The New York Times acclaimed The Road to Mecca as “striking, compassionate and Fugard’s most personal play” in which “Mr. Dale unerringly [located] both the rigidity and the tremors in a resolutely pious man whose certainty comes under siege.” Dale’s performance yielded a Drama Desk Award nomination for Best Actor.
In May, Jim Dale returned to Roundabout for his charming and hilarious one-man show recounting his start on the famed British Music Hall stage, through his Broadway triumphs, to his uproarious experience narrating all seven “Harry Potter” audiobooks. Just Jim Dale, playing at the Laura Pels Theatre, has been described as “light-footed and lovable” with a performance by “a triple-threat and first-rate showman!” (Adam Feldman, Time Out New York).
Just Jim Dale plays at the Laura Pels Theatre May 15 through August 10. For more information and tickets, please visit our website.
2013-2014 Season, Education @ Roundabout, Just Jim Dale, Upstage