Theatre News

Ian McKellen to star in Henry IV adaptation in the West End and Manchester

The man is non-stop – McKellen is back performing in Shakespeare!

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Ian McKellen in Player Kings, artwork supplied by the production

Ian McKellen will star in Player Kings, a new adaptation of Shakespeare’s Henry IV, parts one and two penned by Robert Icke.

Shakespeare’s history play follows Hal, the young prince and King-in-waiting, as he goes through a series of capers with his older friend Falstaff, while the looming threat of war grows.

Icke’s new version will see McKellen take on the role of Falstaff, with further cast to be revealed.

The production runs at the Noël Coward Theatre from 1 April to 22 June 2024, with previews at New Wimbledon Theatre from 1 March to 9 March 2024, and Manchester Opera House from 14 to 23 March 2024.

Icke (1984, Uncle Vanya, The Wild Duck) said today, “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 – and one he’s previously never turned his hand to.

“It’s an exciting challenge to bring together two of Shakespeare’s plays into one production, and I’m so excited to share Player Kings with audiences in the West End and across the country. I’m also thrilled that we’ll have at least 60 dedicated £30 tickets for those under 30 at every performance, including in some prime spots in the auditorium.”

McKellen added, “I decided to become a professional actor at Cambridge in 1959, when I was in John Barton’s undergraduate production of Henry IV. Derek Jacobi played Prince Hal and I was the ancient Justice Shallow. Ever since, the plays have been among my favourite Shakespeares, although through the years I’ve resisted offers to play John Falstaff. Robert Icke’s ingenious adaptation was irresistible.”

Across the three venues there will be 8,000 tickets at £30 or under exclusively for under 30s – with at least 60 tickets available for every performance located across all levels of the auditorium. Tickets go on general sale for Wimbledon and Manchester on 16 November, with a West End general sale on 21 November.

The production has design by Hildegard Bechtler, lighting by Lee Curran, sound by Gareth Fry, casting by Julia Horan and fighting design by Kev McCurdy.