Ian McKellen is an absolute sweetheart and a national treasure

Last night, I went to see Ian McKellen on Stage – the one-man show that is currently touring the U.K. The show was extremely enjoyable, but I was more in awe of the man himself.

Normally after seeing a piece of celebrity-led theatre, I’ll do a review, but I felt like doing something different with this one because it was not an ordinary show and it turns out he’s no ordinary man.

The show starts with McKellen sat on a cardboard travel trunk reading a piece from The Lord of the Rings novel – obviously it’s the “You shall not pass!” bit (It couldn’t really be anything else, could it?) – and he then goes into anecdotes about the film, how he got his start in acting and how it was being gay and in the closet, all while digging props etc from his trunk. In the second half, it is fully focussed on his extensive work with Shakespeare. He gets the audience to shout out names of the plays and he’ll maybe tell an anecdote or maybe launch into a monologue.

It won’t appeal to everybody – you probably need to be a fan of McKellen, The Lord of the Rings and/or Shakespeare to appreciate all the content. I must admit I wasn’t thrilled by how much time was taken up by Shakespeare, and for that reason I preferred the first half, which flashed by.

Ian McKellen fundraising after the show

I was just amazed by McKellen though. His energy, charm and enthusiasm! At almost 80! I aspire to have that much energy when I’m his age. He was very funny and it sounded like he was telling those stories for the first time, not that he had been on tour since January and had done a matinee that afternoon.

Also, the show was two hours and 45 minutes long and that was the second time he’d done it that day, so imagine my shock when I got back down to the foyer afterwards and he was hanging out there with a charity collection bucket to raise money for Theatre Royal Stratford East (where I saw the show)! What a darling! He spoke to so many people that there was quite a hold-up getting out.

McKellen is touring his solo show around U.K. for more than 80 dates to celebrate his upcoming 80th birthday. Most of the London dates are done now – but if you’re a fan, you should definitely go. Info can be found here.

P.S. This has absolutely no bearing on the show but Gillian Anderson (who I’m seeing in All About Eve in two weeks!) was sat directly in front of me. I was so shocked – I never expected to see a celeb in the upper circle and certainly not in Stratford. She was dressed casually and nobody noticed her until she bumped into McKellen downstairs! I have no pic evidence I’m afraid – it all happened too fast!

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