AceShowbiz - Ian McKellen is to play Hamlet in an age-blind version of the William Shakespeare play that's set to be the first British theatre production to begin rehearsals following the easing of the U.K.'s Covid-19 lockdown.
Rehearsals will begin on Monday, June 29, even though none of the cast know when they will be able to stage the play, with bosses at the Theatre Royal Windsor in Berkshire, England hoping to put the play on after their annual winter pantomime.
The new adaptation of Shakespeare's twisting tragedy about a Danish royal family will feature 81-year-old McKellen as Hamlet - a role he played in a touring production almost 50 years ago, that is usually played by a younger actor. It is produced by famed theatre impresario Bill Kenwright and will be directed by Sean Mathias as the first production of his inaugural season in charge of the Theatre Royal.
Revealing how delighted he is to be heading back on stage, Ian says in a press release: "I feel lucky to be working again, thanks to Bill Kenwright's inspiring optimism and Sean Mathias' invitation to re-examine Hamlet, 50 years on from my first go. So now we will meet again. Don't know when, but do know where - Theatre Royal Windsor!".
Theatre chiefs also promised to follow government guidance on keeping their actors safe from the coronavirus, with rehearsals beginning with strict measures in place around physical distancing, screening, hygiene and personal protective equipment.
"The Lord of the Rings" star will also perform in Martin Sherman's adaptation of Anton Chekhov's "The Cherry Orchard", playing the role of Firs the elderly manservant, which will follow "Hamlet" at the Theatre Royal.