theatre reviews u.s.a.

a christmas carol      address unknown      aspirin and elephants       barnum       candide      
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privates on parade
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"barnum"     1981      director joe layton   st. james theatre         new york

for his part of p.t.barnum, jim received forty seven rave reviews, the tony award, the drama desk award and outer critics circle award.

reporter   michiko kakutani    new york times
headline - "jim dale is toast of broadway" "jim dale's performance was a display of consummate showmanship"

reviewer   clive barnes   new york post
"jim dale is a one-man, three -ring, four star circus. he is a knockout, a great performer. many comedians pratfall, but dale freefalls!"

reviewer    frank rich    new york times
"is there anything that jim dale can't do? last night he roared into town in this new musical and showed off enough tricks to make all but a houdini dizzy. he transforms a gargantuan circus of a show into his own joyous playground."

reviewer    chauncey howell    nbc television
"i praise jim dale as barnum. he's the best singing, dancing, looping, leaping, twirling, whirling, walking - he walks all across the stage on a tightrope - singing too; bountiful, beautiful,  juiciful actor-actor. he's a wonder!"

article by reporter roger wolens    evening telegraph u.k.
"when you read all the rave reviews the american critics have written about jim dale, it makes you wonder what is left to say. the brutal broadway breed of reviewers are not known for their generosity towards plays and performers but they have been so in their tribute to jim that 
he could not have paid or prayed for better. and he deserves every last one of then. it�s a standing-room-only sell-out for the next year, but jim managed to squeeze me into the theatre during my flying visit.
and what a fantastic experience it was. the americans have an expression about "giving it your best shot", and this is just what jim does - both barrels. he explodes on stage right at the start, to be greeted by tumultuous applause. he is hardly off stage again for the rest of the night going through every trick of the show biz trade until the show ends with even more rapturous appreciation.
he gets a standing ovation at the end of every show, and he merits them all. he throws himself wholeheartedly into the circus spirit of barnum, with his acting and technical skills dazzling so brightly that the rest of a very good cast almost get lost in his larger-than-life shadow. verve, 
vigor, vitality � they�re all there. pace, power, polish aplenty. like barnum himself � the super showman/salesman he portrays � jim pulls, 
all the strings and manipulates every occasion to his best advantage. the whole colorful, brash, exciting extravaganza gallops along with all 
the style of a thoroughbred � and jim is never out of the saddle. he is singing, swinging, dancing, prancing, scheming and dreaming from first curtain to last; and doing it all with such infectious warmth and good humor that it is obvious he enjoys every marvelous minute of it. and so 
does everyone else.
there is so much life in the breathless, blistering, boisterous helter-skelter of razzmatazz, that it spills over into the whole auditorium long 
before the cast leave the stage to perform in the aisles with their spectacle and songs. in fact this unique show starts long before curtain up. a barker is outside the theatre, entertaining the queuing throngs with magic tricks and slick patter. inside, clowns wait to greet them in the foyer.
as the crowds swarm to their seats, other actors work up the whole free-and-easy feel of the, evening by chatting to them, singing choruses of happy birthday where appropriate, and immediately making everyone glad they came. it works beautifully. a smile is on every face before jim 
gets the show on the road.
the plot is skimpy and incidental, though nonetheless informative and poignant, but the show is really just an excellent vehicle for jim to demonstrate his mastery of all the theatrical arts. and he drives that vehicle faster, more spectacularly and with more nerve than any grand prix champion. it is full of magical moments, action, invention and songs which will certainly become classic standards. it has more fizz than a bottle of bubbly. it is a perpetual fountain of frothy fun and pure joy, with swiss-precision timing, a lovely script and enough production ideas for a dozen other shows. the audience is totally caught up in an atmosphere of barnum humbug and jim dale magic. he even walks a tightrope and makes a dizzy trampoline leap to a precarious perch at balcony height.
like mrs. barnum says, "he wants to give the whole world a new paint job." well jim has started by painting the big apple an ever brighter shade of its usual red. his towering triumph has made him king of broadway, and it is a reflected glory in which we can all take some pleasure in the knowledge that the sensational achievement and acclaim are totally genuine."

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