Some people throw a party for their 80th birthday. Not Sir Ian McKellen. He throws a new solo tour visiting theatres across the UK!
So when it was announced that Ian McKellen was coming to our little theatre in town, I didn’t hesitate in getting tickets. It’s not often an opportunity like this arises in a small town in Mid Wales.
With a full house, the lights went down. A spotlight shone on the stage and Ian McKellen appeared, reading a passage from The Lord of the Rings. I say reading, he was holding the book but didn’t even take a mere glance. An accomplished actor, the words flowed, taking us right back to Middle-earth.
Behind Ian, a huge box (known in the business as a “skip”) sat, covered in stickers from the theatres he’d already visited. The “skip” contained a whole host of wonderful items relating to Ian’s career which came out one by one. Not least, Gandalf’s hat and sword (which one lucky audience member got to hold on stage!).
We were regaled with tales from Ian’s career and he would quite easily slip into character and read passages from the numerous parts which he’s played on stage and on screen.
It was a privilege to sit and watch this incredible man condense his life into a couple of hours for us. It’s not often a big star of stage and screen will grace the stage of a small theatre, much less donate all profits to the theatre!
Yes, Ian McKellen kindly donated all profits from the show to the theatre to go towards the new hearing loop system and if any money was left over it was to go for the upkeep and renovation of the theatre. Not only that, but as soon as the show was finished, he climbed off the stage and went straight to the foyer to collect any change (or notes!) that the audience was willing to part with. He also kindly stopped to sign programmes for anyone who asked.
A fantastic evening was had by all. What a true and generous gentleman and an entertaining and funny one at that!