Janie Dee is one of this country’s treasures of the stage who this week makes a fleeting dash from Leicester’s Curve Theatre, where she has been playing Dolly Levi to rave reviews for the last few weeks, to a brief residence at one of the new London cabaret venues, the Crazy Coqs at Brasserie Zedel. I caught up with Janie shortly before she headed up the M1 for her final week in Leicester.
Dashing from gig to gig seems to be the current hallmark of this busy actress. Hello, Dolly! followed hard on the heels of her appearance in NSFW at the Royal Court, and whether it be in Shakespeare, modern drama or musical theatre, for more than twenty years, Dee has been delivering excellence in all of her stagecraft. Gaining a Best Supporting Actress Olivier Award as a sparkling and truly memorable Carrie Pipperidge in Nicholas Hytner’s 1992 Carousel at the National Theatre, a performance that is even today described by Wikipedia as amongst the top three ever to have been played of that role globally, defined her starry potential and also introduced her to Cameron Mackintosh who with a canny eye for transfer potential, was at that time adopting a wonderfully philanthropic approach to the National’s musicals. Mackintosh wanted Dee to transfer across the river with the box office smash that the show had become, but a combination of commitment and also professional choice, led her to decline the producer’s advances. Nonetheless, she speaks glowingly of Mackintosh’s commitment to the musical theatre genre and has nothing but sincere and considered praise for his recently released film of Les Miserables.
Dee is also a member of that select group of UK performers who has achieved recognised success on Broadway (make it there and you can make it anywhere, so it is sung) with her creation of Jacie Triplethree (android JC 333) in Alan Ayckbourn's Comic Potential, a multi-award winning performance in London that went on to achieve numerous New York nominations. She has garnered critical acclaim for roles in regional theatre as well as London, with particularly strong working relationships being established with Paul Kerryson in Leicester (who also directed the most recent ‘ Dolly!) and Jonathan Kent at Chichester.