Birmingham theatre date for Sir Ian McKellen's 80th birthday show

By Leigh Sanders | Birmingham entertainment | Published:

Sir Ian McKellen is taking a one-man theatre show on an extensive tour to celebrate his 80th birthday, stopping off at the Birmingham REP for two nights.

Sir Ian McKellen has something special planned for his 80th birthday

The iconic British actor, who has an encyclopaedia's worth of stage, TV and film credits, will perform 81 shows between January and September, with 18 of those in his current home of London.

Fans of the X Men, Lord Of The Rings and The Hobbit star will be able to hear all about his life and career and see him perform some of his classic lines when he arrives at the REP on June 21 and 22.

Speaking about the tour, he posted in a statement on his website: "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.

"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 Burnley-born actor has been performing since 1959. His credits roll reads like a must-see list of British culture.

On stage, he has tread the boards as Romeo, Hamlet, Dr. Faustus, Macbeth, Coriolanus, Richard III, King Lear - and Widow Twankie - appearing at theatres such as The Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon and London's Barbican Arts Centre and Royal National Theatre.


On the big screen he plagued the X Men as the troubled Magneto, helped Frodo and then Bilbo in the Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies, portrayed the poet DH Lawrence in Priest of Love and played ageing detective Sherlock Holmes in Mr Holmes.

And his TV appearances include David Copperfield, Windmills of the Gods and his sit-com alongside Sir Derek Jacobi - Vicious, while he has popped up in Coronation Street and had the ultimate honour of appearing as himself in cartoon form in legendary US social commentary comedy The Simpsons.

On top of his acting he has long-been a vocal LGBT rights campaigner since publicly making his sexuality known in 1988. A co-founder of lobbying group Stonewall and a patron of many charities and organisations, he received the Gay Times Honour for Lifetime Achievement in a ceremony this week.

Elsewhere on the tour, Sir Ian appears at The Hafren in Newtown on March 16 and then Mold's Theatr Clwyd on March 18 and 19.

Tickets are available on the official tour website, here.

Leigh Sanders

By Leigh Sanders

Senior sub editor for the MNA portfolio and entertainments writer leaning towards features and reviews. Get releases to me at

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