The UK tour will visit theatres with a personal connection to the actor and performances will encourage audience members to share the stage
The tour begins in January with a two-night run at his local theatre, the Space, in east London. Later dates include Coventrys Belgrade theatre, where he had his first professional job (I stayed a year, on £8.50 a week), Cambridge Arts theatre, where he acted as an undergraduate, and Wigan Little theatre, where he saw his first Shakespeare production as a child.
Facebook Twitter Pinterest Ian McKellen as Coriolanus at the National Theatre in 1984. Photograph: Alastair Muir/Rex/Shutterstock McKellen will also perform in many theatres for the first time and will tailor his material to each venue. He will visit Above the Stag in Lambeth, south London, because I wanted to make my debut at Londons only LGBT+ theatre. I will include my memories of the first production of Martin Shermans sensational Bent, words from Armistead Maupin and a few surprising gay characters in Shakespeare.
Acting great Sir Ian McKellen to make Ballymena stage debut
He will celebrate his birthday, 25 May, with a show in Bolton, where he grew up and discovered in its three professional theatres, a passion for acting, which has never faded. In the town hall, where my father was borough engineer, Ill feel at home and grateful for all that Bolton nurtured in me.
McKellen will visit the Duke of Yorks theatre in the West End, where he made his London debut in 1964 and recently returned to star in No Mans Land, with Patrick Stewart, and King Lear, which closed earlier this month. He said: It was a joy to return recently for 100 performances of King Lear – or rather 99 performances. We had to cancel one Saturday matinee after my left leg gave way while running to catch a train. Rather than send the audience home, I gave an impromptu solo show with the aid of a chair and a walking stick.
The solo tour concludes at the National Theatres vast Olivier stage, where McKellen has previously starred in Coriolanus, The Real Inspector Hound and a brief solo show about Shakespeare. Being alone on the Olivier stage is a challenge, he recalled. During the second performance, my voice gave way, until restored by some voice exercises flat on my back. For my return … I will be upright and audible.
The renowned actor will celebrate turning 80 next May with a tour of his On Stage show – taking in Belfasts Lyric Theatre on July 25-26, the Waterside Theatre in Londonderry on July 27, Braid Arts Centre in Ballymena on July 29, and Newtownabbeys Theatre at the Mill on July 31 and August 1.
Profits from the tour will benefit specific causes at each theatre, from technical improvements to community outreach programmes, talent development and, at Billinghams Forum theatre, refurbishments to the bar, where McKellen suggests hell meet audiences after the show.
He said: “James McKellen left Ballymena in 1840; since then our family have been settled in England but I very much wanted to discover my roots during my UK tour celebrating my 80th birthday. Its high time I made my debut here raising funds to support the work at The Braid.”
He said: “I wanted to celebrate my 80th birthday in Bolton, where I grew up and discovered in its three professional theatres, a passion for acting, which has never faded.
“In the Town Hall, where my father was borough engineer, I’ll feel at home and grateful for all that Bolton nurtured in me at Bolton School, the Little Theatre and in Barrow Bridge where we lived close to the moors.