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James Dybas

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James Dybas
James DybasJamesDybas1.jpg JamesDybas1.jpg
BornChicago, Illinois U.S.
💼 Occupation
📆 Years active  1961-present
🥚 TwitterTwitter=
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James Dybas is an American actor from Chicago, Illinois. Dybas made his Broadway debut in the Richard Rodgers, Stephen Sondheim, Arthur Laurents musical Do I Hear A Waltz? and has appeared on Broadway in George M!, Via Galactica, 42nd Street, Sunset Blvd, The Scarlet Pimpernel and Pacific Overtures -- the latter of which as the Old Man he originated the Sondheim song “Someone in a Tree” and as the French Admiral sang the merits of Detente in the song “Please Hello”. He has appeared in musical and dramatic featured roles in regional theater throughout the United States in films, radio and television.[1][2]

Early life[edit]

Dybas was born in Chicago, Illinois. He studied at H.B. Studios with Uta Hagen and Herbert Berghof, and famed acting teacher Bobby Lewis. He studied dance wth Edna L. McRae, Anna Sokolow, and Luigi.[1]


In 1965, Dybas made his Broadway debut in the Richard Rodgers, Stephen Sondheim and Arthur Laurents’s Do I Hear a Waltz?[1] The production, which starred Elizabeth Allen and Sergio Franchi. Dybas portrayed Allen and Franchi's son, Vito.[3]:17

In 1966, Dybas was an original member of Jerome Robbins’s American Theatre Lab,[4] members who included which included Mariclare Costello, Cathryn Damon, Cliff Gorman, Leonard Frey, Erin Martin, Julia Migenes, James Mitchell, Barry Primus and Gerome Ragni, who was at that time writing the musical Hair.[5]

In 1972, Dybas was in Via Galactica, the first show to open the Uris Theatre (now known as Gershwin Theatre) on Broadway. It was a science fiction musical directed by Sir Peter Hall. It starred a cast of soon-to-be well-known actors like Raul Julia, Irene Cara, and Keene Curtis.[6]

In 1976, Dybas performed in the musical by Stephen Sondheim and John Weidman called Pacific Overtures, which was about Japan's entrance to the western world after years of isolationism.[3]:79 The show, which had a cast that included Mako in his Broadway debut, incorporated traditional Japanese Noh and Kabuki theater techniques.[7] For this musical, Dybas originated the Sondheim songs, "Someone in a Tree" and the 'Detente' section of "Please Hello."[8]

In 1976, he performed on the CBS Sunday morning show, "Camera Three," which featured the development of the Stephen Sondheim song, "Someone of a Tree," from Pacific Overtures which Dybas originated.[9] In 1984, Dybas was Andy Lee in 42nd Street, and performed "Go Into Your Dance" on The Merv Griffin Show.[10][11]

Dybas has worked regularly on several television shows including Kojak, The Greatest American Hero, The A-Team, and Miami Vice.

Dybas worked in Los Angeles theatre as Villanazul in Ray Bradbury's The Wonderful Ice Cream Suit at Pasadena Playhouse, as Neville Landless in Drood!, a musical based on the unfinished Charles Dickens novel The Mystery of Edwin Drood, at Pasadena Civic Auditorium, as Tom Daley in That Championship Season at Whitefire Theatre and in the role of Tristan Tzara in Travesties at the The Richmond Shepard Theater.[12]

Regional theater credits include Bob Ewell in To Kill a Mockingbird at Dallas Theater Center,[13] The King of Siam in The King and I at the Cabrillo Music Theater,[14] Jigger Craigin in Carousel at the Long Beach Civic Light Opera,[15] among many others. He was Harry the Horse in Guys and Dolls at the Golden Gate Theater,[16][17] and as Walter in Chess at the San Jose Civic Light Opera.[18]

Notable performances were opposite Ginger Rogers in the musical Tovarich in the role George Davis and Betty Grable and then Ann Miller in the musical Hello, Dolly! as Barnaby Tucker.[19]

In 1997, during the hours before the opening night of The Scarlet Pimpernel on Broadway, Dybas kept an online journal of his experience for Playbill.[20]

In addition to acting, Dybas has taught at the American Musical and Dramatic Academy as well as master classes and workshops for the Kennedy Centers College Theater Festival. A collection of memorabilia documenting Dybas' work in theatre, film, and TV is held at The Newberry Library in Chicago.[21]

Dybas was the recipient of six Los Angeles Drama-Logue Awards for work that included Travesties, Carousel and That Championship Season.[22]

He is also active in the non-profit organization, Dancers Over 40, which features panels on well-known choreographers like Bob Fosse, Gower Champion, and Joe Layton. Video recordings of these panels are held at the Jerome Robbins Collection of the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts. In addition to educational initiatives, the organization supports dancers who have worked in theater, concert halls, film and TV. Dybas has been on their Board of Directors since 2010 and was the recipient of the organization's 2015 Legacy Award.[23]


Regional theater[edit]



  • 1966: ABC Stage 67 (1 episode: "On the Flip Side")
  • 1966: Hawk (1 episode: "Wall of Silence")
  • 1976: Camera Three - featuring the development of the Stephen Sondheim song, "Someone of a Tree," from Pacific Overtures
  • 1976: Kojak (1 episode: "A Summer Madness")
  • 1980: Knots Landing (1 episode: "Remember the Good Times")
  • 1981: The Music Shoppe (1 episode: "Breaking Into Show Business")
  • 1982: The Greatest American Hero (1 episode: "Plague")
  • 1983: The A-Team (1 episode: "The Rabbit Who Ate Las Vegas")
  • 1983: Tucker's Witch (1 episode: "Psych-Out")
  • 1987: Miami Vice (2 episodes: "Amen... Send Money," "Knock, Knock... Who's There?")
  • 1998: Sins of the City (1 episode: "Blind Eye for Hire")


  • 1966: Step Out of Your Mind as Harry
  • 1980: Private Benjamin as Photographer
  • 1991: Guilty as Charged as Juan
  • 1992: Somebody's Daughter as Crazy man
  • 2015: Valedictorian as Monte


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Kitsakos, Stephen (23 December 2014). "Hug the moment, make it last – 50-years later, actor James Dybas reflects on Do I Hear A Waltz?". The Sondheim Review. Retrieved 1 November 2015.
  2. Rosati, Nancy. "Interview with James Dybas". The Scarlet Pimpernel. Archived from the original on 26 February 2000. Retrieved 1 November 2015.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Tepper, Jennifer Ashley (2013). The Untold Stories of Broadway (First edition ed.). New York: Dress Circle Publishing. ISBN 978-0-985-47186-6. |access-date= requires |url= (help)CS1 maint: Extra text (link) Search this book on
  4. "Catalog of Work: American Theatre Laboratory - 1966". Jerome Robbins Foundation and Trust. Retrieved 2 November 2015.
  5. Lawrence, Greg (2001). Dance with Demons The Life of Jerome Robbins (1st ed. ed.). New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons. ISBN 978-1-101-20406-1. OCLC 883340620. Retrieved 2 November 2015.CS1 maint: Extra text (link) Search this book on
  6. George, Jennifer (1 January 2011). "My Family's Flop". The New York Times. Retrieved 2 November 2015.
  7. "Pacific Overtures". Playbill. 1976. Retrieved 2 November 2015.
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 8.4 8.5 8.6 "James Dybas, Performer". Playbill. Retrieved 2 November 2015.
  9. O'Connor, John J. (26 March 1976). "TV: 'Camera Three' Offering 'Anatomy of a Song'". The New York Times. p. 53. Retrieved 2 November 2015.
  10. "James Dybas as Andy Lee - "42nd Street"". The Merv Griffin Show. 4 May 1984. Retrieved 7 November 2015.
  11. Sullivan, Dan (13 February 1984). "Review: 42nd Street". Los Angeles Times. p. 1. Dybas is on the cover of the Los Angeles Times
  12. Koehler, Robert (22 December 1983). "Stage Review: The Importance of Being 'Travesties'". Los Angeles Times. p. 4.
  13. Taitte, Lawson (29 October 2011). "Dallas Theater Center's 'To Kill a Mockingbird' only a partial success". The Dallas Morning News. Retrieved 7 November 2015.
  14. Spencer, Jim; Lorraine, Shirley (26 October 1995). ""King" Adds New Jewel to CMT Crown". Ventura County & Coast Reporter.
  15. "Review: Guys and Dolls". San Francisco Examiner. 11 February 1993. p. 12.
  16. Christiansen, Richard (10 June 1994). "1950 and fabulous: 'Guys and Dolls' revival captures time and place in its glory". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 7 November 2015.
  17. Beck, David L. (17 January 1992). "Don't Checkmate Me, Anatoly; No stalemates in this 'Chess'". San Jose Mercury News.
  18. Roberts, Frank (5 October 2000). ""Ancient" musical is a forum for funniness". The Virginian-Pilot. Retrieved 7 November 2015. Ginger Rogers danced with Fred Astaire and James Dybas; Betty Grable danced with Dan Dailey and James Dybas.
  19. Dybas, James (9 November 1997). "James' Diary: Noon". Playbill. Retrieved 2 November 2015.
  20. "James Dybas Papers (1959-2010)". The Newberry Library. Retrieved 2 November 2015.
  21. "The Drowsy Chaperone". The Cape Playhouse. Retrieved 2 November 2015.
  22. "The Board - Biographies". Dancers Over 40. Retrieved 2 November 2015.
  23. "Jesus Christ Superstar - Paper Mill Playhouse Production (1977)". Ovrtur.
  24. "42nd Street - 2nd National Tour (1984)". Ovrtur.
  25. Morale, Kristen (12 July 2015). "BWW Reviews: Drowsy We Are Not!". Broadway World. Retrieved 1 November 2015.
  26. "Inside the Playbill: Do I Hear a Waltz? - Opening Night at 46th Street Theatre". Playbill. 1965. p. 9. Retrieved 2 November 2015.
  27. "Who's Who in the Cast: James Dybas". The Scarlet Pimpernel - Opening Night, Playbill. 9 November 1997. Retrieved 2 November 2015.

External links[edit]

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