Ian McKellen will star in the title role of a new "age-blind" production of Shakespeare's Hamlet at Windsor's Theatre Royal. Set to run June 21–September 4, the new new staging will be the theatre's first major new production since COVID-19 shuttered most live theatre last year.
McKellen will lead a company that includes Ben Allen, Francesca Annis, Steven Berkoff, Emmanuella Cole, Llinos Daniel, Alis Wyn Davies, Ashley D Gayle, Nick Howard-Brown, Jonathan Hyde, Asif Khan, Lee Knight, Missy Malek, and Jenny Seagrove. The production will be helmed by McKellen's longtime director and business partner, Sean Mathias.
The production had been planned for earlier, even starting rehearsals eight months ago, but was postponed due to COVID-19 restrictions. The theatre hopes that the production will be able to play with non-restricted audience seating.
Theatre Royal will follow Hamlet with a new production of the Martin Sherman adaptation of Chekhov's The Cherry Orchard, running September 10–October 23 with McKellen taking on the role of Firs.
"I’ve acted in both these masterpieces before and seen them scores of times," says McKellen. "They are in that select group of classic plays which bear—even demand—a regular look—even reappraisal—by actors, directors, producers, and audiences. How can Hamlet be played by an 80 year old? I hope theatre-starved audiences will want to find out!"
"The return of British theatre from the long dark night of COVID-19 has rightly been one of our biggest cultural conversations of the last year," adds Mathias. "Now, as more rays of hope begin to appear, everyone in the industry is determined to help our precious artform explode back into life. We trust that by bringing together this exceptional ensemble to present two of the greatest plays of all time we will play our part in this revival, and on a personal note I can’t think of a more invigorating way to mark my first season as artistic director of the Theatre Royal Windsor Season."
Tickets are currently available at TheatreRoyalWindsor.co.uk.