Ian McKellen is to celebrate his 80th birthday next year by raising funds for theatres, with a new solo show which will play on 80 stages across the UK.
It all begins in January with a Tour of London from the National Theatre to the Theatre Royal Stratford East, as well as performances in the West End and Outer London.
Then, across the country, he will visit theatres large and small with which he has personal connections, including amateur groups he knew as a child and notable playhouses he has played in as a professional actor over the last half-century.
All profits from the tour will benefit specific causes at each theatre.
His intimate show is a mixture of anecdote and acting, including Tolkien, Shakespeare, others…and questions from the audience.
Ian McKellen 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. 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, Prospect Theatre, the Actors’ Company, as well as with commercial productions.
“Sean Mathias, the director, and I have worked together for stage and screen, many happy times.”
Executive producer Adam Speers, from the Ambassador Theatre Group, which is producing the tour, said: “ATG is proud to be presenting Ian McKellen On Stage and is committed to supporting regional touring.
“The UK’s 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.”
2019 UK Tour Dates
January 25-26, The Space, Isle of Dogs, London January 28, National Lyttelton Theatre January 30, Young Vic
February 3, Bridge Theatre, London February 4, Richmond Theatre February 6, Above The Stag Theatre, London February 10, Hampstead Theatre February 11, Arts Theatre February 12-13, Theatre Royal, Windsor February 17, The Old Vic February 19-20, Bristol Old Vic February 22, Royal Court Theatre, Chelsea February 24-25, The Queen’s Theatre, Hornchurch February 26, RADA Jerwood Vanbrugh Theatre, SPECIAL PERFORMANCE FOR STUDENTS ONLY.
March 1, Donmar Warehouse, SPECIAL PERFORMANCE FOR YOUNG+FREE MEMBERS ONLY. March 3, Lyric Hammersmith March 4, The Questors, Judi Dench Playhouse, Ealing March 7, (Mat & Eve), Duke of York’s Theatre, London March 8-9, New Wolsey Theatre, Ipswich March 10, Theatre Royal Stratford East March 13, Swansea Grand Theatre March 14-15, Aberystwyth Arts Centre, Aberystwyth University March 16, The Hafren, Newtown, Powys March 18-19, Theatr Clwyd, Mold March 24, Theatre Royal Bath March 29-30, Maddermarket Theatre, Norwich
April 2, The Leas Cliff Hall, Folkestone, Kent April 5, Chichester Minerva Theatre April 12-13, Theatre Royal Bury St Edmunds April 14 Royal & Derngate Theatre, Northampton April 17-18, Mercury Theatre, Colchester April 20, Belgrade Theatre, Coventry April 24-25, Norwich Playhouse April 27-28, King’s Lynn Shakespeare Festival St George’s Guildhall April 30 – May 1, Oxford Playhouse
May 3-4, Jersey Opera House May 6, Aylesbury Waterside Theatre May 7-8, Everyman Theatre, Cheltenham May 10-11, Cambridge Arts Theatre May 13-14, Little Theatre, Wigan May 15, The Forum Theatre, Stockport May 17-18, Liverpool Playhouse May 19, Warwick Arts Centre, University of Warwick, Coventry May 20, Blackpool Grand May 23, Burnley Youth Theatre May 25, The Albert Halls Theatre, Bolton May 28, The Dukes, Lancaster May 31, Buxton Opera House
June 1-2, Leicester Curve Theatre June 3, Sheffield Crucible June 4, Theatre Royal Wakefield June 5-6, HOME Manchester June 9, Forum Theatre, Stockton-on-Tees June 11, The Civic, Barnsley June 12, CAST, Doncaster June 14, The Georgian Theatre Royal, Richmond, Yorks June 16, New Theatre, Hull June 17, Grand Opera House, York June 21-22, Birmingham Repertory Theatre June 25-26, Nottingham Playhouse June 27-28, New Theatre, Cardiff
July 1, Exeter Northcott Theatre July 2, Lighthouse, Poole’s Centre For The Arts July 3, Marine Theatre, Lyme Regis July 5, The Watermill Theatre, Newbury July 15-19, Theatre Royal Brighton July 21, Royal Shakespeare Theatre & Swan Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon July 25-26, Belfast Lyric Theatre July 27, Waterside Theatre, Londonderry July 29, The Braid Arts Centre, Ballymena July 31 – August 1, Theatre at the Mill, Newtonabbey
August 9, Dundee Rep Theatre August 11, Pitlochry Festival Theatre August 12, Eden Court, Inverness August 14, Aberdeen Tivoli August 18, Newcastle Theatre Royal August 20, Theatre by the Lake, Keswick August 22-25, Edinburgh International Festival August 28, The Orkney Theatre, Kirkwall
September 15, The National Olivier Theatre, London.