Sir Ian McKellen on Stage, Hampstead Theatre

Sir Ian McKellen on Stage picture: OLIVER ROSSER/FEAST CREATIVE

Sir Ian McKellen on Stage picture: OLIVER ROSSER/FEAST CREATIVE - Credit: Archant

A solo tour of British theatres by the Lord of the Rings star will raise funds for each venue

Most people would be putting their feet up for their 80th birthday, but Knight of the stage Sir Ian McKellen is doing an exhaustive fundraising tour of the British Isles.

The veteran thespian’s roadshow rolls into Hampstead on February 10 when he will talk about his long career - from playing Gandalf in Lord of the Rings to King Lear for the RSC - in a blend of acting and anecdote.

The tour travels to 80 venues, from pub theatres to the National Theatre’s grandest auditorium the Olivier, covering every corner of the UK and donating the profits back to each venue for their specific causes.

Sir Ian has a personal connection to many of the venues, including amateur groups he knew as a child.

McKellen, who turns 80 on May 25, says: “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. In-between there will be anecdotes and acting. I open at my local arts centre in January and end up by August in Orkney.

“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, with the National Theatre, Royal Shakespeare Company, as well as with commercial productions.”

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Working with director Sean Mathias, Sir Ian appears at Hampstead Theatre in Eton Avenue venue but first appeared in the original Hampstead Theatre in 1965.

“I was in Donald Howarth’s beautiful “Lily in Little India”, which transferred to the West End. I was back in Michael Rudman’s “Short List” but I’m now glad to play for the first time at the new Hampstead Theatre, where I’ve seen many productions. Profits from my solo show will go towards offering £10 tickets to all under 30s for every performance at Hampstead Theatre”.

Ambassador Theatre Group’s Executive Producer Adam Speers who is producing the tour said: “Regional venues are integral in supporting and developing artists and practitioners across all areas of the theatre, both on and off stage. All of us in this industry are united by a passion for the arts and love of what we do and this special show is a rare and excellent opportunity to celebrate what’s best in our industry while at the same time celebrating one of its greatest actors and raising vital funds to keep the lifeblood of theatre in this country flowing.”

Sir Ian McKellen on Stage is at Hampstead Theatre on February 10.

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