Message from the Artistic Director about Just Jim Dale
Never have I presented a more aptly-titled show than Just Jim Dale, beginning previews this week at the Laura Pels Theatre. Yes, it's just Jim up there on stage, alone but for a pianist and a stool. But if you think that "just" signifies something small, then you don't know Jim Dale at all.
Jim was born to be a performer, and as you'll learn from this incredible show, he is as natural a storyteller as there has ever been. I'll let Jim tell you himself about his upbringing in the glory days of the British Music Hall, his triumphs as a pop star, his transformation into a musical comedy man, and his unforgettable creation of hundreds of voices for the Harry Potteraudiobooks.
What I want to share with you is my personal experience with Jim, a man whom I can tell you without exaggeration basically saved Roundabout thirty years ago. Hugely popular after his successful turn in the musical Barnum, Jim could have done anything he wanted. But in 1984 he agreed to do Peter Nichols's A Day in the Death of Joe Egg off-Broadway with Roundabout, just as we had been kicked out of our old theatre and were moving into a new one, losing plenty of money along the way. The theatre's finances were so bad that making payroll each week was an ongoing struggle, and we were only kept afloat by the generosity of one dedicated board member, Chris Yegen. What we needed was a hit show, and Jim Dale gave us one. He and Stockard Channing came together to such stunning effect in Joe Egg that the production became one of the season's must-see events, quickly moving to Broadway, where it would win this company's very first Tony Award for Best Revival of a Play. That success put us on solid enough ground that we were able to turn things around for the theatre. It was only my second year with Roundabout, and I will never forget my feeling of gratitude towards Jim for taking a chance on us.
Since that time, Jim has truly become part of the Roundabout family. He would return for another great Peter Nichols piece, Privates on Parade, and later to play the iconic Mr. Peachum in The Threepenny Opera, before gracing Athol Fugard's The Road to Mecca with his beautiful work just two years ago. I've had the privilege of hearing Jim tell jokes and stories many times over his years with Roundabout, and it is a pleasure like no other. They really just don't make 'em like Jim anymore, with wide-ranging talent and such utter affection for his audience. I'm thrilled to be able to share this singular experience with you.
As always, I hope that you will share your thoughts with me by email@example.com. Whether you have memories of Jim and his work to share or have feedback on the show itself, I am eager to hear it all.
I look forward to seeing you at the theatre!
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