Gandalf, Magneto, Hamlet and Richard III were all present in Stratford on
the 5th May 2012
And so were many other characters as film and theatre great Sir Ian McKellen
opened his national one-man show at the town's King's Theatre.
All proceeds from McKellen's tour will go towards the restoration of
Christchurch's Isaac Theatre Royal.
It was McKellen's second trip to Stratford, after a desire to visit the town,
which has 67 streets named after Shakespeare's characters, struck him last year.
"I noticed a street named Regan St. Now I'm not sure if you realise who Regan
was, but she was a terrible woman – a psychopathic torturer.
"I wouldn't like to have Regan St as my address," he said.
McKellen opened his show with a powerful reading from his Lord of the Rings
character Gandalf, before inviting audience members up to hold Gandalf's sword,
The Englishman's relaxed and charming story-telling during a question and
answer session that followed proved a real treat for the audience.
Part two of the show was dedicated solely to Shakespeare, and saw McKellen
perform former roles from Romeo to Richard III.
Shakespearean mastermind Ida Gaskin kept McKellen on his toes when he
challenged the audience to name all 37 of Shakespeare's works. "There's 38," she advised him.
After explaining the criteria by which he qualified each play, 37 was agreed
The audience had no trouble crossing each one off the list, which McKellen
then signed and gave to Mrs Gaskin as a souvenir.
"We'll get it framed. This will be an heirloom to hand down through the
family," she said.
Mrs Gaskin was blown away by McKellen's performance and said watching him
perform Shakespeare made her feel slightly nostalgic.
"It's not often I'm lost for words but I'm speechless after that," she said.
"I could have sat here for another two hours."
At the end of the show, McKellen made actors out of about 30 audience
members, who joined him on stage for an impromptu act where they played dead
King's Theatre manager Barry Milner said McKellen's appearance at the theatre
had done wonders for raising its profile.