I was never really an avid watcher of the Carry On films and so the name Jim Dale wasn’t one I was overly familiar with, so I went along to see his new one man show Just Jim Dale with an open mind and no real expectations.
One day Jim realised there must be more to life than making shoes in the middle of England somewhere. So he put one foot in front of the other and started touring the country on the Music Hall scene (similar to the American Vaudeville circuit years ago). In the 80’s he went to American to star in Barnum on Broadway and has been living there ever since! Jim starred in eleven of the British comedy Carry On films alongside Barbara Windsor and a whole host of others who all turned up to press night and were individually picked out of the audience and made to stand up. This gave a real feeling that this is not just about Jim but about celebrating his life and everyone he has worked with.
79 year old Jim Dale glides across the stage like a 20 year old, with a sparkle in his eyes and a tap in his feet, showing no signs of retiring anytime soon. He is captivating and at no point during the two hour show was I bored as it had been structured well with moments of music, comedy, shakespeare and monologues. It’s not often I raise more than a smile in the theatre and even rarer that I belly laugh but at this show I laughed so hard I thought I might die. Moments like that are certainly worth paying for.
Accompanied by just a piano, Jim takes the audience on a trip down memory lane, through his time playing the music hall circuit, to recording the audio books for Harry Potter (US) and most famously, his appearance in the Carry On films. Pianist Mark York makes the night even funnier by laughing at Jims jokes like he has never heard them before.
An unexpected brilliant night out that I can’t recommend enough, whether you know who Jim is or not. There is something here for everyone.
Reviewed by West End Wilma
Just Jim Dale is playing at the Vaudeville Theatre until 20 June 2015. Click here for tickets