The Ballad of the Happy Life: Seasoned Stage Star Gives Threepenny Opera More Than His 2¢

Tony Awards   The Ballad of the Happy Life: Seasoned Stage Star Gives Threepenny Opera More Than His 2¢
Within the cast director Scott Elliott assembled for the Tony Award nominated Broadway revival of The Threepenny Opera, Jim Dale — nominated for his turn as Mr. Peachum — is the most seasoned stage veteran. But don't tell him that.

Jim Dale
Jim Dale Photo by Aubrey Reuben

"Trying to be my age," Dale told about his biggest challenge in bringing The Threepenny Opera back to Broadway. "Because I'm working with such young people there, I keep behaving like an 18-year-old and I have to remember I'm a lot older than that."

For Dale, his Tony nod marks the fourth nomination of his Broadway career — a win for his turn in Barnum as well as noms for Joe Egg and Candide. The stage provides the actor with steady, yet brief stints, much to his liking. "I've got to an age now where I really don't want to do anything for a year, I really haven't got the time," Dale explains, "I can do three months, then do something else three months and that way I can get three or four projects in the time it would take just to do one. And you can get a bit bored after a year."

For the time being, he is enjoying his current role as the elder statesman of the Kurt Weill-Bertolt Brecht operetta. In a new take on the role, Peachum (clad in a baby blue suit which accentuates the actor's slim, lanky build) dances about the stage with an air of an old vaudevillian hoofer.

"I don't think the aficionados of Threepenny Opera expected so much movement from one of the main villains," Dale purports. "People don't know what the hell to expect and then, before you know it, he's ballroom dancing! Yes, it's a strange role but it's such a joy to be doing it."

Showing his childlike side, Dale also divulged a little unscripted stage tomfoolery. "Some of the moments, they are—not improvised every night—but you add two or three moments to certain things. And I do it to make a certain guy smile on stage and every night I haven't failed so far, which is terrible for him."

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