When I was asked if I’d like to review Just Jim Dale, Still Carrying On at the Vaudeville Theatre, I’m embarrassed to say I had to google his name. To utter shock and disbelief I realised that Jim Dale (Born Jim Smith) is one of my childhood favourites from the Carry On film franchises. He was the one I thought was the funniest and the most attractive. Yet for some reason his name wasn’t as familiar to me as Sid James, Barbara Windsor or even Kenneth Williams… Well, slapped wrist for me because after watching his 2-hour autobiographical show at the Vaudeville Theatre on the Strand, I can now say with certainty that this man, born in Rothwell, is one of the most talented people I’ve ever had the pleasure of being in the same room as (and I have met a lot of actors and performers in my short 37 years!). And yes, he still has that sparkle in his eye that will have women of a certain age blushing!!!
Jim Dale has returned to The Vaudeville theatre 50 years after he first performed there. It’s hard to believe that he is nearly 80 years old with a career that is 63 years young! Jim most certainly moves with more flair and ease than men more than half his age.
I don’t’ want to give too much away as regards the show, as part of the charm is being able to laugh not knowing what is coming next. What I can tell you is that Jim Dale was discovered in a talent show audition back in the 1950s, and went on to star in 12 Carry On Films – he was also approached by Sir Laurence Olivier and asked to play alongside him in a series of Shakespeare plays. He originated the character of Scapino on Broadway, played the title role in Barnum as well as Fagan in Oliver. He is an Academy Award nominee for the lyrics he penned for Georgy Girl. Sir George Martin produced some of Jim’s chart topping hits in the 1960s before Jim went on to write and record, Dick-a-Dum-Dum (King’s Road) latterly performed by Des O’Connor. It doesn’t stop there. Jim holds three Guinness World Records, he has also won Grammy and a record 10 Audie awards for his work on various audio books including The Harry Potter franchise and the show I had the pleasure of watching has also won the Off-Broadway Outer Critics Circle award.
In this short 2 hour show (with a 20 minute intermission, presumably where Jim collapses out of sight on a sofa and catches his breath) we see Jim re-create moments from his life through prose, the spoken word, impressions, movement, dance (ballet and tap), comedy and photography. As an audience member we are treated to Music Hall favourites and even get to sing along with him to Turned up (Mary Ellen at the Church Turned Up) and help re-create the opening scene from one of the plays he worked on Broadway with in the 1980s. Throughout the show you get the sense that this man can, and has done, anything he puts his mind too.
It’s very fitting that Jim Dale, star of Stage and Screen, Musical and Play, Shakespeare and Carry On, Actor, Pop Star, Stand-Up Comedian, Lyricist, Award-Winning Narrator has decided to create a one–man autobiographical show, because if he decided to release his memoirs in book form, we’d need about 15 editions!
Hopefully this has given you a taster of this man and has enticed you to get a ticket to see the man tell his story… I’ll leave you with a quote from the show: Be he “leading man or dirty rotter, haunted by f*&king Harry Potter!” this man is a legend.
Review by Faye Stockley
Just Jim Dale Still Carrying On
Tony Award winner, two-time Grammy Award winner and two-time Academy Award nominee Jim Dale has brought his critically acclaimed show, Just Jim Dale, to the Vaudeville Theatre, following his huge Off-Broadway success in New York.
Jim Dale is one of the world’s great stage entertainers: singer, dancer, comedian, Shakespearean actor, raconteur. In Just Jim Dale, Jim takes audiences on a journey through an unequalled career in the theatre with a myriad of irresistible showbiz tales, songs and performances – a career extending from performing as the youngest professional comedian on the British Music Hall stage, to joining the National Theatre at the request of Sir Laurence Olivier, starring in 11 Carry On films, his Broadway triumphs in Scapino, Barnum and Me and My Girl, and then his uproarious experiences narrating all seven Harry Potter audiobooks for the US market.
Just Jim Dale
26th May 2015 to 20th June 2015
Evenings: Monday to Saturday 7.30pm
Matinees: Wednesday and Saturday 2.30pm
Thursday 28th May 2015