posted on November 12th, 2018

Ian McKellen to make his debut at the Lyric Theatre, Belfast


Ian McKellen is to celebrate his 8oth birthday next year by raising funds for theatres, with a new solo show which will play on 80 stages across the UK, including two days at the Lyric Theatre on 25 and 26 July 2019.

His intimate show, Ian McKellen On Stage, is a mixture of anecdote and acting, including Tolkien, Shakespeare, others…and you the audience.

The UK tour begins in January 2019 and continues right across the year, when 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.

Ian McKellen was very keen to bring his new solo show to the land of his ancestors and to discover his roots during this unique tour.  James McKellen left Ballymena in 1840, since when his family has been settled in England but McKellen will be making his début at the Lyric and at a number of other local theatres including Waterside Theatre in Derry/Londonderry, the Braid Arts Centre in Ballymena and Theatre at the Mill, Newtownabbey in order to help support the work of these theatres in his ancestral home.

Ian McKellen says: “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.

“I’ve presented previous solo shows in Belfast, but this will be my début at the Lyric. I wanted to include Northern Ireland in the tour celebrating my 80th birthday as my ancestors lived close by 200 years ago. Profits will go towards a technical apprenticeship, the New Playwright mentor programme and a trainee director scheme.”

The Lyric Theatre’s Executive Producer Jimmy Fay says: “We are privileged to be one of the UK regional venues to host Ian McKellen On Stage and to have this opportunity to raise vital funds to support and develop artists and practitioners across all areas of the Lyric theatre, both on and off stage.  All of us in this sector 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 one of its greatest actors and to raise vital funds to keep the lifeblood of theatre flowing. Thank You, Sir Ian!”

Ian McKellen On Stage runs at Lyric Theatre Belfast on 25 and 26 July 2019 7.45pm. Tickets: £50. For further information and bookings visit: https://lyrictheatre.co.uk

To make a donation please visit:  www.lyrictheatre.co.uk/get-involved/support-the-lyric

For further information and tour map, please see the website for more details: www.ianonstage.co.uk