Many readers will be familiar with actor CHARLES DALE following his long tenure as Big Mac in BBC1’s Casualty and before that as Dennis Stringer in ITV1’s Coronation Street. Less well known may be his theatre work such as Blue Remembered Hills at Sheffield’s Crucible Theatre , or even (for lovers of trivia) that he once fronted an R&B band.
Others will recall an appearance as Joe Cocker on a 2001 Coronation Street/Stars in Their Eyes charity special. Still available on YouTube, we can sample something of the grit his voice will bring when new musical Everybody’s Talking About Jamie opens at the Crucible Theatre, Sheffield in February.
Written by Dan Gillespie Sells and Tom MacRae, the plot of Everybody’s Talking About Jamie revolves around 16-year-old Jamie and his ‘secret’. The publicity image on the Crucible website leaves little doubt as to what that might be, but Jamie casts caution to the wind when he opts for appearing at his school prom in a dress.
Staging the piece is the immensely experienced director/choreographer Jonathan Butterell who has worked on musicals on and Off-Broadway, in London and, of particular interest for northern audiences, for Opera North in the company’s 2002 production of Sweeney Todd.
Musical Theatre Review’s Mike Tilling caught up with Charles during rehearsals for the show.
How much can you tell us about the storyline of Everybody’s Talking About Jamie?
Of course it’s about a young man growing up and the challenges he faces. Other cast members are those he goes to for help and advice. Some of that advice is good, some not so good. When you are 16, it is often difficult to be able to tell one from the other.
What can you tell us about the songs?
They are all original. This is no jukebox musical. You can hear one of them, ‘Don’t Even Know It’, as a preview on the Crucible website [and below].
They are all as catchy as that and, as rehearsals have continued, it is really exciting to hear other cast members bringing them to life. I am directly singing in two of them.
What is your role?
I don’t think it is giving away too much of the plot to tell you that I play Hugo, the proprietor of a shop called Victor’s Secret. Read into that what you want. As mentioned earlier, sometimes Jamie gets good advice, sometimes not. I am saying no more.
Have you worked with any of the cast or creatives before?
Astonishingly, given the time I have been in the business, I walked into rehearsals on day one and knew nobody. Of course it does not take long to get to know people. I soon realised that Josie Walker has one of those voices that has immediate appeal and can cut right through to the emotions. And from the start, I got on well with director Jonathan Butterell.
Is there anything audience members should be looking out for?
The set is fantastic, but this is a show about people, their emotions and their interactions. It is this human aspect that drives the action.
* Everybody’s Talking About Jamie plays the Sheffield Crucible from 9-25 February 2017 with a press night on 13 February.
* Charles Dale’s theatre, his work includes The Wars of the Roses, The Comedy of Errors, Coriolanus and The Winter’s Tale (English Shakespeare Company), Cyrano de Bergerac (Haymarket Theatre, London), Tess of the D’Urbervilles (Royal Exchange, Manchester) and Dealer’s Choice (West Yorkshire Playhouse). His television work includes series regular roles in Casualty, Where the Heart Is, Rocket Man, The Eustace Man, Paradise Heights, Coronation Street, At Home With the Braithwaites and The Lakes.