It's not every day that you turn 80 years old and Sir Ian McKellen is making sure he marks the year in style. The British actor is celebrating his birthday by promising to perform 80 different solo shows across the United Kingdom. The proceedings from the show will be used for the benefit local theaters. The funds have now reached £800,000.
Sir Ian started off by performing a one-off free solo show at the Norwich Playhouse for 80 octogenarians and their guests. The performance included anecdotes and speeches from different characters he has portrayed including Gandalf from highly-acclaimed Lord of the Rings series. The show touring nationally included Tolkien, Shakespeare and others.
“I’m celebrating my 80th birthday next year by touring a new solo show to UK theatres I know well and a few that I don’t. I open at my local arts centre in January and end up by August in Orkney,” Sir Ian said in a Tweet.
On the show’s official website, Sir Ian added that the “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,” reads the page. “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.” The idea of a one-off free show came from Norwich Theater Royal and Sir Ian agreed it was a “wonderful idea”.