Sir Ian McKellen to reprise role as Hamlet in age-blind production – and he’ll start rehearsing next week
Jun. 26, 2020
Sir Ian McKellen will start rehearsals next week for an age-blind version of Hamlet, as theatre bosses across the country warn they face ‘devastation’as a result of the pandemic.
The Lord of the Rings star, 81, first played Shakespeare’s troubled young prince nearly 50 years ago, and he is thrilled to be working again.
The performance of Hamlet – which will take place at the Theatre Royal Windsor – is billed as the first major, new, live theatre production to start rehearsals in the UK since auditoriums went dark in March as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
However, with live performances still currently banned , it is not known exactly when the new production will open, but producers are hopeful it will be in ‘the forthcoming months’.
Hamlet will be directed by Sean Mathias, who previously worked with Sir Ian on Waiting For Godot and No Man’s Land, and produced by Bill Kenwright.
Sir Ian said: ‘I feel lucky to be working again, thanks to Bill Kenwright’s inspiring optimism and Sean Mathias’s invitation to re-examine Hamlet, 50 years on from my first go.
‘So now we will meet again. Don’t know when but do know where – Theatre Royal Windsor!’
To ensure Sir Ian’s safety, and those around him, strict measures will be in place for when rehearsals start, including social distancing, screening, hygiene, and use of personal protective equipment.
Rehearsals will start on Monday 29 June.
Producers have defiantly said that if the show ‘cannot yet go on, rehearsals will’.
Kenwright, who is also the chairman of Everton Football Club, said: ‘Sean, Ian and myself have been planning this season for some time now, and the truth is I couldn’t bear to see it slip away.
‘So a lot of more planning, a great deal of determination (and I must admit some of the things I learned prior to the return of football) has got us to the place where all things theatrical start.’
The producer, who has hundreds of productions to his name, said: ‘Nothing is more important than this country’s (and indeed the world’s) health and safety, so we are not ready to announce an opening night yet – but I’m a great believer in making a start if a start is possible, and in this instance it is.
‘I’m hopeful we will be enjoying a Windsor season in the forthcoming months.’
The cast will also include Ben Allen, Emmanuella Cole, Alis Wyn Davies, Oli Higginson, Nick Howard-Brown, Jonathan Hyde, Asif Khan, Missy Malek, and Jenny Seagrove.
Sir Ian made his debut at Theatre Royal Windsor last year in his acclaimed solo show.
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