Just Jim Dale sees the British-born entertainer celebrating 50 years in showbusiness with a light-hearted look at his extraordinarily varied career.
A self-proclaimed child of music hall, Dale recalls his early experiences on stage in vivid detail, from his first foray into dance to touring the UK as a juvenile comedian. An innately physical performer, he still has the agility of a clown and his comic timing is put to good use in many of the gags that make up this show.
After a brief flirtation with the British pop music scene in the 1950s, Dale concentrated on his talent as a comedian and is probably best remembered as a stalwart of the Carry On team. Leaving the franchise after 11 films, Dale made the US his home and achieved success on Broadway with shows such as Barnum and Me And My Girl. While he may well have been off the radar in the UK, his voice work in the US, particularly for the Harry Potter audio books, has introduced the entertainer to a new audience.
As charming as Dale is on stage, contemporary references run very thin all too soon. A few musical numbers accompanied by Mark York on the piano prove that he can still sell a tune and there is even a Noel Coward monologue to remind us of his versatility as an actor. Ultimately, Dale’s return to the West End should warrant a warm welcome, but he has been away for so long, maybe this nostalgic patchwork doesn’t do justice to his real talents.