Ian McKellen announces second performance of one-man show in Coventry

Ian McKellen
Ian McKellen

Acting legend Ian McKellen will be giving an additional performance of his hotly anticipated one-man show at the Belgrade Theatre in Coventry following popular demand.

The stage and screen star will now appear twice on Saturday April 20, with a 2.30pm matinee preceding the previously announced evening show at 7.30pm.

Tickets will go on general sale at 10.30am on Thursday February 14, offering fans another chance to see him return to where his career started, or to treat a loved one to a ticket in time for Valentine’s Day.

Forming part of a special tour to celebrate his 80th birthday, Ian McKellen’s visit to the Belgrade will offer the perfect opportunity to reminisce about his days as part of the Belgrade repertory company, which kick-started his professional career as a young man back in the early 1960s, not long after the theatre first opened in 1958. During this time, he lived alongside other actors on-site at the theatre, in flats since converted into offices.

With the Belgrade having celebrated its 60th anniversary in 2018, and as Coventry gears up for its year as City of Culture in 2021, this is a chance to celebrate one of the brightest talents nurtured by the theatre and the city as a whole.

As well as stories of his time spent in Coventry, there will also be opportunities to hear about how his acting career progressed from those early days. Intimate and conversational in nature, the event will be a mixture of anecdote, acting and audience participation, taking in everything from Shakespeare to Tolkien along the way.

Presented by the Ambassador Theatre Group, the tour has been generously organised to help support theatres across the UK, with all profits directly benefiting charitable causes at individual venues. At the Belgrade Theatre, all the money raised from the event will be invested into a range of talent development work, ensuring that the theatre can continue to provide opportunities for emerging artists, actors and more to get their first break, just as it did for Ian McKellen in 1961.

The theatre promises that tickets will be "accessibly priced", helping to enable as many people as possible to take part.

Ian McKellen said: “I’m celebrating my 80th birthday by touring a new solo show to theatres I know well and a few that I don’t. The show starts with Gandalf and will probably end with an invitation to act with me on stage.

“My first professional job was at the newly-built Belgrade Theatre, living in a company flat on Corporation Street. I stayed a year, on £8.50 a week. Ian McKellen on Stage is anecdote as well as acting, so I’ll tell you a story or two about the old days.

“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.”

Priority booking is now open for Belgrade Members, ahead of general release at 10.30am on Thursday February 14. To book and for further information, visit www.belgrade.co.uk or call the box office on 024 7655 3055.