Theatre News

New dates and casting announced for Ian McKellen's Hamlet

The age-blind production is directed by Sean Mathias

Ian McKellen
Ian McKellen
© Jack McGuire

New details have been announced for Hamlet starring Ian McKellen at the Theatre Royal Windsor.

The production, directed by Sean Mathias and starring McKellen in an "age-blind interpretation of the young Prince", will begin performances on 21 June 2021.

Produced by Bill Kenwright, Hamlet runs until 4 September and heralds Mathias' inaugural season at the venue. It will be followed by Martin Sherman's adaptation of Anton Chekov's The Cherry Orchard, with McKellen playing Firs the elderly manservant.

The cast for both plays also includes: Francesca Annis (Ghost & Ranevskaya), Steven Berkoff (Polonius), Emmanuella Cole (Laertes), Alis Wyn Davies (Ophelia), Jenny Seagrove (Gertrude), Ben Allen, Llinos Daniel, Ashley D Gayle, Nick Howard-Brown, Jonathan Hyde, Asif Khan, Lee Knight and Missy Malek.

Hamlet first went into rehearsal eight months ago but could not proceed when new restrictions were put in place due to the UK's second wave of COVID-19. Rehearsals will start again next week, with "strict measures remaining in place to ensure the safety of the company".

The creative team also includes set designer Lee Newby, costume designer Loren Elstein, lighting designer Zoe Spurr and composer and sound designer Adam Cork.

Sean Mathias said: "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."

Ian McKellen added: "I've acted in both these masterpieces before – and seen them scores of times. 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."