Famed actor Sir Ian McKellen turned 80 years old recently and to celebrate his birthday he decided to go on a live tour around Britain, starting in London and ending here in Orkney. As to why he did this, the answer can be found in the programme of the performance which states that when he turned 50 years old he spent his time alone in a health spa in Spain but remembering how miserable he was then decided to go on a tour around Britain instead, so that we could all celebrate his birthday and share in the joy.
The first act of Sir Ian’s performance started with him reading the “you shall not pass” passage from J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Fellowship of the Ring to the audience, then he described how Peter Jackson came to him about playing the part of Gandalf and how he met the other cast members after which he told stories about the tour and places he had been around Britain. He then told us stories from his past, from how he fell in love with acting after seeing a production of Peter Pan as a child to how he became a professional actor doing Shakespeare in London to coming out publicly for the first time. No matter what story he was telling to the audience, he was inspiring and delivered his stories in an emotional and captivating way.
The second act focused on Shakespeare and his works. Sir Ian brought out the full collection of Shakespeare’s works and asked if we could name them all. For each one we named he told us stories either about his experience acting in the play or a story about Shakespeare himself. Eventually after we had named all of Shakespeare’s works the performance concluded with McKellen thanking the audience for coming to see him, the theatre for hosting him and his team for organising everything. After the performance he gathered donations for the theatre in order to repair and improve it.
The performance that Sir Ian McKellen put on was captivating and funny and was no doubt helped by Sir Ian’s charismatic and good-hearted nature that warms the heart of everyone he speaks to.