Hobbit star Sir Ian McKellen is giving Tauranga theatre goers a reason to be thankful for the Christchurch earthquake this weekend, when he performs his one man show at Baycourt theatre.
Sir Ian, who is in New Zealand reprising his role as Gandalf for Sir Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit, is performing the show to raise money for Christchurch’s earthquake damaged Isaac Theatre Royal, a theatre close to his heart.
“The last time I was on stage in New Zealand was at the Isaac Theatre Royal in Waiting for Godot,” Sir Ian says.
“I love this beautiful old theatre and want to help restore it as soon as possible.”
During his weekends away from The Hobbit, he’s taking ‘Ian McKellen on Stage’ to regional theatres in the next couple of months.
He opened in Stratford on May 5, and will be in Tauranga on May 13.
The new show is full of interactive entertainment as the audience get to ask Sir Ian questions about his life and work, as he re-traces his journey from the north of England to the West End of London, to Broadway, Hollywood and Middle Earth.
There is chat, reminiscence, gossip and performances from his Shakespeare and Tolkien repertoire – with maybe a song and a chance to act with him onstage.
"Basically it will be a party. Do come." says Sir Ian.
Since The Lord of the Rings trilogy and the X-Men movies, Sir Ian has played in Strindberg, Beckett, Chekhov, Shakespeare, Mark Ravenhill, Eduardo De Filippo - and as Widow Twankey in the pantomime Aladdin.
In New Zealand he has toured as King Lear and as Gogo in Waiting for Godot. On television he was most recently seen achieving his ambition to act in Coronation Street.
“It is a once in a life time opportunity to, number one, see him perform on stage; and number two, also to actually perform on stage with him,” says Baycourt manager of venues and events Dale Henderson.
The only Tauranga show is at 2pm on Sunday.
“He’s got to go back to work on Monday of course.
“Our target is to have an absolutely full house and it’s not full yet - so there’s room for improvement.”