Ian McKellen at the 45th annual LGBTQ Pride Parade in New York City. (Photo: a katz / Shutterstock.com)
Sir Ian McKellen, icon of screen and stage, will play the title role in an “age-blind” production of Hamlet this June. Fifty years after first playing the Danish prince, McKellen will be 82 come production time.
McKellen, a two-time Oscar nominee for his roles in Gods and Monsters and The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, will headline the production at England’s Theatre Royal in Windsor, just outside of London. As reported in Daily Mail, the octogenarian legend has no quibbles about playing the youthful role: ‘I do Pilates three times a week,” he said, “and I have a trainer twice a week — all long-distance — so I’m fairly fit for the thriller that is Hamlet.”
The Windsor theater company, led by artistic director Sean Mathias, will show Hamlet for ten weeks starting June 21, 2021. Mathios directs the production that was postponed from last summer, and by the time June performances come, lockdown restrictions should be lifted. The play will mark Windsor Theatre Royal’s return to live performances.
The cast has already gathered to rehearse in PPE. The cast also includes Jenny Seagrove (as Gertrude, Hamlet’s mother), Steven Berkoff (as Polonius, his lover’s father), Alis Wyn Davies (Ophelia, Hamlet’s lover), and Emmanuella Cole (Laertes, Ophelia’s brother).
Following his stint in Hamlet, McKellen will continue on in the summer festival as the manservant Firs in Anton Chekhov’s The Cherry Orchard. As the actor has observed, he will play the youngest character in the first play to the oldest in the second.