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Long before he came to global fame in the Lord of the Rings and X-Men movies, Sir Ian McKellen had cemented his reputation as one of his generation’s greatest stage actors. So it’s entirely fitting that he’s celebrating his upcoming 80th birthday with an epic and pretty darn heartwarming 80-date theater tour of his homeland.

McKellen, who has won a Tony and six Laurence Olivier awards for his stage work, turns 80 on May 25 next year. His new solo show, simply titled ‘Ian McKellen on Stage,’ will begin on January 25 at The Space, an intimate venue in east London. It will then criss-cross the U.K. before concluding at The Orkney Theatre in northern Scotland on August 28.

On his actual birthday, he’ll take to the stage at The Albert Halls Theatre in Bolton, the town 10 miles northwest of Manchester where he went to school.

The tour is billed as a “mixture of anecdotes and acting.” Profits from each performance will go straight to the individual theaters, some big and some small, which McKellen has picked on the basis of his personal connection with each one.

“The show starts with Gandalf and will probably end with an invitation to act with me on stage. In-between there will be anecdotes and acting. I open at my local arts centre in January and end up by August in Orkney,” McKellen said in a statement.

“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. Sean Mathias, the director and I have worked together for stage and screen, many happy times.”

Besides Gandalf, which of McKellen’s classic characters would you like him to recreate on tour?

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Filed Under: Sir Ian McKellen
By Nick Levine