McKellen & Stewart Wait in Haymarket Godot, 6 MayDate: 31 October 2008
As previously tipped (See The Goss, 30 May 2008), Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart will join forces in the new year to co-star in Samuel Beckett’s 1955 classic Waiting for Godot at the West End’s Theatre Royal Haymarket.
Following an eight-week regional tour, the new production - directed by Sean Mathias, who has been appointed artistic director of the Theatre Royal Haymarket Company’s second year of in-house productions - will open at the West End’s Theatre Royal Haymarket for a limited season from 6 May to 28 June 2009 (previews from 30 April). Subsequent productions in Mathias’ season are due to be announced shortly.
In Waiting for Godot, two tramps, Vladimir (Stewart) and Estragon (McKellen, making his Beckett debut), are waiting on a deserted road. As they pass the time, they ask the question: “Will Mr Godot ever come?”. In the National Theatre’s NT2000 poll, theatre professionals voted Waiting for Godot the most significant English language play of the 20th century.
The play’s last West End outing was Peter Hall’s 50th anniversary production, which transferred in 2006 to the Arts Theatre (See 1st Night Photos, 10 Oct 2006), where Hall directed the English-language world premiere in 1955 when he was the theatre’s 25-year-old artistic director.
McKellen and Stewart went head-to-head in the Best Actor in a Play competition in the 2008 Whatsonstage.com Theatregoers’ Choice Awards - with McKellen eventually winning for the Royal Shakespeare Company production of King Lear, over Stewart’s own title turn in Rupert Goold’s Macbeth (for which he won three other top prizes as well as a Tony nomination for the Broadway transfer).
On screen, the actors play foes in the X-Men film series. McKellen told today’s Daily Mail: “It’s Professor X and Magneto together again.” Waiting for Godot is designed by Stephen Brimson Lewis, lit by Paul Pyant and presented by the Theatre Royal Haymarket Company in partnership with Duncan C Weldon. Prior to the West End, the play will tour from 5 March to 25 April 2009, visiting Malvern, Milton Keynes, Brighton, Bath, Norwich, Edinburgh and Newcastle.
And ahead of that, Stewart will appear in the West End opposite David Tennant in Gregory Doran’s sell-out RSC production of Hamlet, which, following its current season in Stratford-upon-Avon, runs from 9 December 2008 (previews from 3 December) to 10 January 2009 at the Novello Theatre as part of the company’s winter residency (See News, 9 Jun 2008).
Director Sean Matthias has previously directed McKellen in Uncle Vanya, Dance of Death and Aladdin. His other theatre credits – at the National, Donmar, Haymarket and in the West End - include Ring Round the Moon, Suddenly Last Summer, Talking Heads, Les Parents Terrible, Design for Living and Bent. Most recently, he directed Triptych at the Market Theatre in Johannesburg and at London’s Southwark Playhouse.
- by Terri Paddock