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Sir Ian McKellen returns home to star in “Player Kings” at Opera House Manchester

Sir Ian McKellen's triumphant return to Manchester as John Falstaff in "Player Kings" promises a riveting exploration of power, corruption, and the unexpected journey to kingship, skillfully directed by the acclaimed Robert Icke.
Behind the scenes glimpse of Player Kings coming to Opera House Manchester starring Sir Ian McKellen

In an exciting theatrical announcement, Ambassador Theatre Group Productions revealed today that the legendary Sir Ian McKellen is set to return to Manchester, reprising his role as John Falstaff in Robert Icke’s adaptation of William Shakespeare’s Henry IV, Parts 1 & 2, titled “Player Kings.”

What’s Player Kings about?

A tale of a divided country, crumbling leadership, and pervasive corruption, “Player Kings” explores the challenges faced by Hal, who unexpectedly finds himself thrust into the role of a future king.

Directed by Robert Icke, the production promises a compelling journey as Hal navigates the turbulent political landscape while grappling with his ties to the infamous John Falstaff.

The play is scheduled to premiere at the New Wimbledon Theatre from March 1 to March 9, 2024, followed by performances at the Manchester Opera House from 13-14 March 2024.

The grand finale will take place at the Noël Coward Theatre from 1 April to 22 June 2024.

Robert Icke, the acclaimed director, expressed his enthusiasm for the collaboration, stating, “It’s a genuine honour to work with one of our greatest Shakespearean actors, Ian McKellen, especially as he tackles one of the most iconic Shakespearean roles.”

Icke also highlighted the excitement of merging two of Shakespeare’s plays into one production.

Sir Ian Mckellen in rehearsal for Player Kings coming to Opera House Manchester
Sir Ian Mckellen in rehearsal for Player Kings coming to Opera House Manchester. Photo credit Manual Harlan

Sir Ian McKellen, reflecting on his connection to the material, shared, “Robert Icke’s ingenious adaptation was irresistible.”

Having decided to become a professional actor during his time at Cambridge, McKellen’s history with Shakespearean plays goes back to 1959 when he appeared in John Barton’s undergraduate production of Henry IV.

To make this theatrical experience accessible to a broader audience, the production offers a unique opportunity for young theatregoers.

Across all three venues, 8,000 tickets priced at £30 or under will be exclusively available for those under 30.

Furthermore, at least 60 tickets for every performance will be strategically located across all levels of the auditorium, ensuring affordable access to prime spots.

Sir Ian McKellen Factfile

Ian McKellen plays John Falstaff.

He first acted at school and with amateur groups in the north of England, where he was born and brought up. He studied English at Cambridge University and, since 1961, has worked non-stop in the British theatre.

He has been a leading man and produced plays, modern and classic, for the Royal Shakespeare Company and the National Theatre of Great Britain
and in the West End of London.

He was in the first production of Martin Sherman’s sensational Bent and in premières of plays by Arnold Wesker, Peter Shaffer, Michael Frayn, Alan Ayckbourn, Mark Ravenhill and currently Ben Wetherill (Frank and Percy).

Of late he has starred in Waiting for Godot and No Man’s Land (with Patrick Stewart) and as Mother Goose in Jonathan Harvey’s pantomime.

As Salieri in Amadeus he won every available award on Broadway.

In Shakespeare he has triumphed as Richard II, Macbeth (with Judi Dench), Coriolanus, Iago, Richard III (also on film) and most recently as King Lear (twice) and as an 80 year old Hamlet in Sean Mathias’ upcoming film. For over a decade, he toured his one-man show, Acting Shakespeare, at home and abroad.

McKellen is recognised worldwide as Magneto in the X-Men films and as Gandalf in The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies. He received his first Academy Award® nomination, for Best Actor, as the gay film director James Whale, in Bill Condon’s 1998 classic Gods and Monsters.

Since he has starred in The Da Vinci Code, Mr Holmes, Beauty and the Beast, All is True, The Good Liar and The Critic.

In 2019 McKellen became the first actor to top The Stage 100 list of most influential people in British Theatre, following his triumphant UK Tour and West End run of Ian McKellen on Stage which raised £5 million to support regional theatres.

McKellen’s television work stretches from Rasputin (Golden Globe Award)  to Coronation Street, from Extras with Ricky Gervais to Vicious with Derek Jacobi and The Dresser with Anthony Hopkins. On the first ever Film On Four, he was Stephen Frears’ Walter.

Sir Ian was knighted in 1991. He is a co-founder of Stonewall UK, which lobbies for legal and social equality for gay people. In 2008,  he was appointed Companion of Honour, “for  services to drama and to equality’.

Tickets to see Player Kings at Opera House Manchester

As the anticipation builds for Sir Ian McKellen’s return to Manchester, theatre enthusiasts are eagerly awaiting the opportunity to witness the magic of Shakespeare brought to life by one of the most celebrated actors of our time.

Ticket sales for Opera House Manchester are open to ATG+ members starting today. Don’t miss the chance to be part of this unforgettable experience as “Player Kings” promises to captivate audiences.

Don’t miss this must see theatrical event of the season, playing at the Opera House from 14 – 23 March 2024.

Book your tickets now by clicking here

Photo credit Manual Harlan

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