cel­e­brat­ing a very big birth­day

Sir Ian McKellen starts an 80-date solo tour some­what close to home

The Wharf - - Isle Of Dogs, Poplar Blackwall - Jon Massey Go to space.org.uk or strat­fordeast. com for more de­tails

Scan down the list of the­atres on Sir Ian McKellen’s forth­com­ing tour in cel­e­bra­tion of his 80th birth­day and it seems there’s barely an area of the coun­try the ac­tor won’t be grac­ing.

His re­cently an­nounced solo show is sched­uled for 80 stages across the UK, in­clud­ing dates in Scot­land, Wales, North­ern Ire­land, ru­ral Eng­land and a size­able slew in Lon­don.

The run will start with two nights on the Isle Of Dogs, how­ever – walk­ing dis­tance from the Lime­house res­i­dent’s home in Nar­row Street.

Sir Ian has a long as­so­ci­a­tion with The Space arts cen­tre in West­ferry Road, hav­ing been in­volved with the venue since the for­mer church was con­verted into its present form in the 1990s.

“The Space is my lo­cal the­atre and the first stop on my tour of Lon­don with a new solo show in­volv­ing Tolkien, Shake­speare, oth­ers and you – the au­di­ence,” said Sir Ian.

“I am a pa­tron of the Space and have been very fond of it, ever since I was in­volved with Robert Richard­son’s ini­tia­tive in sav­ing this de­light­ful Wee Free Church as an old and trea­sured as­set on the Isle Of Dogs.

“All prof­its will ben­e­fit St Paul’s Arts Trust, pro­vid­ing com­mu­nity ac­tiv­i­ties for peo­ple in Tower Ham­lets and be­yond.”

Sir Ian’s show is set to play at The Space on Jan­uary 25 and 26 2019.

“The show starts with Gan­dalf and will prob­a­bly end with an in­vi­ta­tion to act with me on stage,” said Sir Ian.

“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.

“I have worked to­gether for stage and screen with Sean Mathias, the di­rec­tor of my solo show, many happy times.”

Just as at The Space, pro­ceeds from the shows will go to spe­cific causes re­lated to the 80 venues vis­ited.

Also on the list in east Lon­don is The­atre Royal Strat­ford East, on March 10, while venues big and small in the cap­i­tal will also play host in­clud­ing Na­tional The­atre (Lyt­tle­ton) on Jan­uary 28, The Old Vic on Fe­bru­ary 17 and Hamp­stead The­atre on Fe­bru­ary 10.

Tick­ets, which are likely to sell quickly, can be booked through in­di­vid­ual the­atre web­sites.

Prices at The Space start at £30 or £15 for ex­ist­ing mem­bers of its Stargazer scheme.

Prices at The­atre Royal Strat­ford East start at £45.

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