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'I feel immensely jealous of him' - Sir Ian McKellen delights at free Norwich show for 80-year-olds

PUBLISHED: 19:03 25 April 2019 | UPDATED: 14:30 26 April 2019

Norwich Theatre Royal and Norwich Playhouse chief executive Stephen Crocker meets Sir Ian McKellen at Norwich Playhouse Credit: Twitter/stephen_crocker

Norwich Theatre Royal and Norwich Playhouse chief executive Stephen Crocker meets Sir Ian McKellen at Norwich Playhouse Credit: Twitter/stephen_crocker

Archant

Star of stage and screen Sir Ian McKellen treated an audience of octogenarians to an unforgettable afternoon at Norwich Playhouse.

Ian McKellen is on tour at 80 stages across the UK to celebrate his 80th birthday this year Credit: Oliver Rosser, Feast CreativeIan McKellen is on tour at 80 stages across the UK to celebrate his 80th birthday this year Credit: Oliver Rosser, Feast Creative

Sir Ian's one-man show is touring 80 venues across the UK this year to celebrate the acclaimed actor's 80th birthday in May.

The tour came to the Norwich Playhouse this week for three performances, including a free matinee for others turning 80 this year and a guest, coordinated by Archant and the Norwich Playhouse.

The show was jam-packed with anecdotes from McKellen's illustrious career and he began the show dressed as Gandalf from Lord of The Rings.

Judy Greenland and Geoff Hinchcliffe at the Ian McKellen show at Norwich Playhouse. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYJudy Greenland and Geoff Hinchcliffe at the Ian McKellen show at Norwich Playhouse. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

He also took the audience on a journey through all of Shakespeare's plays and he recited passages along the way.

There were also more poignant moments, where he discussed coming out as gay to his stepmother and how he discovered his love of theatre as a boy.

The audience gave Sir Ian a standing ovation at the end of the show and he then returned the favour by singing Happy Birthday to them.

Penelope and Richard May at the Ian McKellen show at Norwich Playhouse. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYPenelope and Richard May at the Ian McKellen show at Norwich Playhouse. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

After the performance, Geoff Hinchcliffe, 79, from Shipdham, said: “It brought back lots of memories about his early life around Manchester where I'm from.”

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Penelope May, 79, from Sheringham, who came the show with husband Richard of 57 years, said: “It was absolutely brilliant and I loved all the Shakespeare - I've seen him before in The Tempest in Stratford-upon-Avon.”

Helen McDermott and Paul Barnes at the Ian McKellen show at Norwich Playhouse. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYHelen McDermott and Paul Barnes at the Ian McKellen show at Norwich Playhouse. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Paul Barnes, 79, from Norwich and former BBC Radio Norfolk presenter, said: “I hate him, he is so nimble, has such a fantastic memory - oh I hate him.

“I feel immensely jealous of him, he is so fit, I totter about and couldn't do what he does, he is like a ballet dancer.”

Also attending the event was LGBT school children from Norfolk schools and people who are homeless.

Norwich Pride youngsters at the Ian McKellen show at Norwich Playhouse. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYNorwich Pride youngsters at the Ian McKellen show at Norwich Playhouse. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Michelle Savage, chair of Norwich Pride who brought the pupils to the show, said: “He is such a hero and icon to LGBT people and to hear he only came out at 48 to his stepmother but she said she had known for 35 years is hilarious.

“It is great that the students are totally captivated by an 80-year-old man they only known as Gandalf.

Stephen Crocker, chief executive at Norwich Playhouse and Theatre Royal, said: “It is utterly fantastic, I am convinced the Playhouse is floating six inches off the ground with excitement.

Stephen Crocker, chief executive at the Theatre Royal and Norwich Playhouse, at the Ian McKellen show at the Playhouse. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYStephen Crocker, chief executive at the Theatre Royal and Norwich Playhouse, at the Ian McKellen show at the Playhouse. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

“It is such a wonderful thing to share with groups around Norfolk and particularly those that we have worked with through our Creative Matter season including homeless charities and LGBT groups.

“I was speaking to Ian and he said he was really pleased we had used the matinee in this way to make a show available to as wide an audience as we can.”

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