Sir Ian McKellen heading to Manchester Opera House for 2024 Shakespeare adaptation

The iconic thesp will be treading the boards at the Opera House next March

By Ben Arnold | 15 November 2023

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Sir Ian McKellen will be heading to Manchester in the spring to play Falstaff in the Robert Icke-directed production Player Kings, adapted from the works of Shakespeare.

The play will come to the Opera House from 14 March to 23 March, the only performances outside London.

Icke’s show adapts scenes from both parts of Henry IV, with the Lord of the Rings icon playing the notorious carouser, one of Shakespeare’s most memorable characters, set to the backdrop of an England riddled with corruption, divided and politically precarious.

Ian McKellen also commented, “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.”

(Credit: Phil Tragen)

There will also be a range of affordable tickets made available for under-30 theatre-goers

Robert Icke 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.”

Tickets for Ambassador Theatre Group members go on sale today at 12pm, with general tickets on sale tomorrow (16 November) at 10am.

It is, of course, not the first time that Burnley-born, Bolton-schooled McKellen has trod the boards in Manchester, last year appearing in the West End panto production of Mother Goose with John Bishop at the Lowry.

You can buy tickets here…