Sir Ian McKellen is no stranger to Theatre Royal Bury St Edmunds. With a brick in the wall, a dressing room named after him and a star in the newly created Theatre Star Trail (arranged in collaboration with Our Bury St Edmunds), Sir Ian is one of many revered stars that knows what it is to tread the boards at Theatre Royal.

Not only has Sir Ian graced Theatre Royal stage, he actually helped restore the theatre in 2004 when he, along with others, became a Patron of the Restoration and Renovation Appeal and performed in the 2005 Restoration Gala; one of several performances that helped raise over £50,000 towards the restoration.

 

Sir Peter Hall, CBE and Sir Ian McKellen, CBE at the launch of Theatre Royal Bury St Edmunds Restoration Appeal in 2004

 

I was last at Theatre Royal with Judi Dench, Prunella Scales and Timothy West, this time I’m here on my own. I am delighted that all profits will go towards Theatre Royal’s “200th Anniversary Fund” to develop Theatre Royal’s creative output, its wide-reaching provision for children and young people, and its pioneering outreach work, the Associate Artists Programme.

Sir Ian McKellen

 

Sir Ian brought his one-man show, touring 80 theatres in celebration of his 80th birthday, to Theatre Royal on Fri 12 and Sat 13 Apr, playing to full houses on both nights with a powerful combination of anecdotes, monologues and asides. Gandalf made an appearance and Sir Ian walked us through his life as a young boy interested in the mechanisms behind theatre shows to his incredible life as a stage and film actor. The second act included his thoughts on every single one of Shakespeare’s 37 plays and thrilling performances of some of the most famous speeches contained within them, including a chilling section from Macbeth and the beautiful speech from Romeo and Juliet (where he performed both roles!). With two performances, all the money raised from tickets, programmes and bucket collections will go towards supporting the theatre in it’s bid to raise £200,000 for the 200th Anniversary.

The fund will enable Theatre Royal to augment its extensive programmes for children and Youth Theatre; boost our ability to deliver the often life-changing Community Engagement Programme, working in collaboration with local community groups; and support Theatre Royal’s ability to be a producing house, enriching the heritage interpretation as the last remaining example of a Regency Playhouse in the whole of the UK, for current and future generations.

 

Tony Kelly, Sir Ian McKellen, CBE and Dawn Roberts outside Theatre Royal the day before the 200 For 200 Sponsored Walk

 

Sir Ian also took the time out of his busy schedule to meet the walkers of the 200 for 200 Sponsored Walk and wish them luck as they set off! The walk starts tomorrow (Sat 13 Apr) and ends on Easter Monday. Over 200 miles will be covered as our 3 main walkers are joined at different legs of the journey by volunteers, supporters, Patrons and sponsors! To support the walkers as they follow the path of the Norwich Circuit of Players (led by none other than Theatre Royal architect, William Wilkins), head on over to the JustGiving page! bit.ly/2004200