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Ian McKellen: A life on stage

Posted by Curtain Call on 10 Aug, 2018

We round up some of Sir Ian McKellen's many landmark stage performances, following his legendary exploits in the West End this week

Ian McKellen © Matt Humphrey

Sir Ian McKellen made headlines this week for staging an impromptu Q&A when a matinee performance of King Lear was cancelled due to his injured leg. So we thought we would delve into the archives to find some pictures of the actor's many legendary stage appearances.

Hamlet - 1971

McKellen Hamlet

McKellen tackled the Dane aged 31, in a production directed by his previous collaborator Robert Chetwyn. It was an acclaimed interpretation that inspired one critic to write that it elevated him to the "Shakespearean acting elite".

Macbeth - 1976

RSC Macbeth Ian McKellen Judi Dench

Trevor Nunn's landmark 'black box' RSC production in The Other Place in 1976 starring McKellen and Judi Dench was a huge critical and commercial success. It was adapted for film in 1979.

Bent (1979)

Bent McKellen

McKellen played Max in the premiere of Martin Sherman's groundbreaking play at the Royal Court. It subsequently transferred to the West End and has become a modern classic.

Coriolanus (1984)

McKellen Coriolanus

Peter Hall's production at the National Theatre won McKellen not just critical plaudits but an Evening Standard Award for best actor.

Richard III (1990)

Richard III McKellen

Richard Eyre's National Theatre production was a huge hit, as was the follow up film version. The cast included a young Mark Strong.

Dance of Death (2001-04)

Dance of Death McKellen

McKellen starred opposite Helen Mirren on Broadway in Sean Mathias' production of the Strindberg classic, going on to revive his performance in the West End alongside Frances de la Tour.

Waiting for Godot / No Man's Land (2009-2016)

Godot McKellen Stewart

McKellen starred alongside his longtime friend Patrick Stewart in this double-header of modern classics, starting in the West End with Godot and going on to do a double-bill on Broadway. 

King Lear (2018)

Mckellen Lear

The second time McKellen has tackled the role, this Chichester Festival production of Lear is currently packing them in at the West End's Duke of York's Theatre. 

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