Ian McKellen to visit Midlands theatres on birthday tour

Published: 11 November 2018
Reporter: Steve Orme

Ian McKellen is to celebrate his 80th birthday in 2019 by raising funds for theatres through a new solo show which will play on stages across the UK including Coventry, Nottingham and Stratford.

In Ian McKellen on Stage, presented by the Ambassador Theatre Group, he will visit theatres with which he has personal connections, including amateur groups he knew as a child and notable playhouses he has played as a professional actor over the past half century.

Sir Ian said, “I’m celebrating my 80th birthday by touring a new solo show to theatres I know well and a few that I don’t. The show starts with Gandalf and will probably end with an invitation to act with me on stage.

“Live theatre has always been thrilling to me, as an actor and in the audience. Growing up in Lancashire, I was grateful to those companies who toured beyond London and I’ve always enjoyed repaying that debt by touring up and down the country myself.”

He will make his Northampton debut at Royal and Derngate on Sunday 14 April, with profits funding the restoration of the Royal’s safety curtain and youth theatre projects.

Sir Ian will return to the place where his career started, Coventry’s Belgrade Theatre, on Saturday 20 April, with money raised being invested in talent development work.

He will reminisce about his days as part of the Belgrade repertory company, which kick-started his professional career in the early 1960s. During that time he lived alongside other actors at the theatre in flats since converted into offices.

He will then appear at Buxton Opera House on Friday 31 May. “This is my first time on stage in Buxton, a happy opportunity to support learning-and-engagement and Young Company productions,” said Sir Ian.

He will also visit Birmingham REP on Friday 21 and Saturday 22 June, with profits benefiting the REP First campaign which nurtures new talent.

He was part of the first company which opened Nottingham Playhouse in 1963 and will return there on Tuesday and Wednesday 25 and 26 June. Proceeds will benefit participatory activity for children in the most deprived areas of Nottingham.

Sir Ian has had a long association with the Royal Shakespeare Company where his work has included title roles in Trevor Nunn’s productions of Macbeth, Romeo and Juliet and King Lear. He will return to Stratford on Sunday 21 July for two performances, one in the Swan Theatre at 2:30 and one in the Royal Shakespeare Theatre at 7:30PM. Proceeds will go towards the company’s Stitch in Time campaign to restore and redevelop the RSC’s costume workshop.