Ian McKellen at 80: Actor celebrates birthday with charity performances in Brighton

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Sir Ian McKellan is returning to the Theatre Royale in Brighton with a one-man show for his 80th birthday to raise funds for theatres nationwide. The actor is embarking on the colossal UK tour, ‘Ian On Stage’, from January to July 2019, visiting 80 theatres he has personal connections with.


McKellen will perform a total of five shows in Brighton, the most of any venue announced for the tour so far. The intimate show will combine anecdotes and acting to explore some of his previous roles from Tolkien, Shakespeare, and more, ending with an opportunity for the audience to act with him on stage.


Ian McKellen said: “I was first onstage at Theatre Royal Brighton as Shakespeare’s Richard II, one of the parts I shall reprise in my new solo show of anecdote and acting. I’ve always relished playing in Brighton and I’m delighted that the profits from my performances this time will benefit the very necessary renovations of this beautiful old theatre.”


Sir Ian McKellen and Sir Patrick Stewart © Gage Skidmore


It will have been three years since the legendary Shakespearean actor has performed in Brighton. In 2016, McKellen was joined by Sir Patrick Stewart for a touring performance of Harold Pinter’s No Man’s Land, which received a warm reception from theatre lovers in Brighton and Hove.


McKellen added: “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, Prospect Theatre, the Actors’ Company, as well as with commercial productions.”

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The actor began his crusade into acting at amateur groups in the North of England at a young age. He has been acting in British theatre for almost sixty years, triumphing roles such as Shakespeare’s King Lear and Richard III, Beckett’s Waiting for Godot, and in films such as Gandalf in Lord of the Rings and Magneto in the X-Men films.


Opening the tour at his local arts centre in London, accessibly priced tickets will be on offer at every venue in order for the actor to give back to theatres he has memories of. All profits from the performances will go to specially targetted areas at each individual venue.


Theatre Royal Brighton © Ian Muttoo


The tour is presented by Ambassador Theatre Group and directed by Sean Mathias. Executive Producer of the group, Adam Speers, says: “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.”


Tickets for performances at the Theatre Royal Brighton from Monday 15th – Friday 19th July 2019 are available here.


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