Jim Dale is an inspiration. At 78 years old, he has the boundless energy and agility of most people half his age. Sure, his current solo show Just Jim Dale is scripted, but one can’t help but think after watching him perform, that he could spontaneously share any one of his many tales of show business, leaving the listener equally charmed and informed.
This multiple award-winning Brit is currently recounting his extremely eclectic past in Roundabout Theater’s latest off-Broadway offering. As a young teen in London, Dale recalls how he literally “fell” into entertainment when he received his first big break in a music hall variety show as a comedian. It was a fall that took him on a tour around England, into the groovy British music industry, to Hollywood, Broadway, and more recently, into a studio as the narrator of a hugely popular children’s fantasy franchise.
Corny humor is served in field size quantities, but Dale’s persona is so engaging that all is forgiven, and even the most obvious of jokes are made surprisingly fresh. Dale explores the first time he sang the lyrics to “Georgy Girl” (for which he received an Academy Award nomination from the film of the same name) and carries us to the present, recreating a bit about recording the audio books for Harry Potter. Inspired by real life characters and channeling his own creativity, Dale breathed life into over 130 different voices for the series and took home two Grammy awards for his stunning accomplishment. In between, he briefly describes his other successes and admits defeat for endeavors that didn’t quite reach the heights.
The most appealing quality to this 90 minute bio-musical is Dale’s endearing ability to laugh at himself and find the positive edge in an enduring and challenging career. With his affable demeanor and quick delivery, audiences can settle in trusting that they are in fully capable hands with this impeccable showman.
Just Jim Dale plays now through August 10th. Off-Broadway at the Laura Pels Theater 111 West 46th Street between 6th and 7th avenue. For tickets, go to the box office, call 212-719-1300, visit www.roundabouttheatre.org,