Acting legend Sir Ian McKellen has added a second performance at the Belgrade on his 80th Anniversary Tour in April.
Due to popular demand, the star will now appear twice at the theatre on Saturday, April 20, with tickets already on sale for a 2.30pm matinee, preceding the previously-announced evening show at 7.30pm.
Sir Ian, one of the grandest names in British theatre, started his career in Coventry and Warwickshire.
His tour also takes in the RSC in Stratford, where there will be two performances on Sunday, July 21 - at the Swan Theatre at 2.30pm, and at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre at 7.30pm.
The shows are part of a special tour to celebrate his 80th birthday. At the Belgrade, Sir Ian will reminisce about his days as part of the theatre's repertory company, which kick-started his professional career back in the early 1960s, not long after the theatre opened in 1958. During this time, he lived alongside other actors in flats since converted into offices.
With the Belgrade celebrating its 60th anniversary in 2018, and as Coventry gears up for its year as City of Culture in 2021, this is the perfect opportunity to celebrate one of the greatest talents nurtured by the theatre and the city.
In honour of his long connection to the Belgrade, Sir Ian has also agreed to an exclusive meet-and-greet with a small group of audience members after the main event. Capacity for this post-show extra is strictly limited to 60 people, so be sure to book early.
There will be stories of his time spent in Coventry, and of how his career progressed. Intimate and conversational in nature, the event will be a mixture of anecdote, acting and audience participation, taking in everything from Shakespeare to Tolkien along the way.
The Stratford shows will mark Sir Ian's long association with the Royal Shakespeare Company where his work has included title roles in Macbeth, Romeo and Juliet and King Lear.
His tour starts in London and will take in theatres across the UK with which he has a connection. It has been organised to help support theatres, with all profits directly benefiting charitable causes at individual venues. At the Belgrade, money raised from the event will be invested into a range of talent development work, ensuring that the theatre can continue to provide opportunities for emerging talents.
In Stratford, proceeds from the performance will go towards Stitch in Time, the RSC's campaign to restore and redevelop its costume workshop,
Sir Ian said: “I’m celebrating my 80th birthday by touring a new solo show to theatres I know well and a few that I don’t. The show starts with Gandalf and will probably end with an invitation to act with me on stage.
“My first professional job was at the newly-built Belgrade, living in a company flat on Corporation Street. I stayed a year, on £8.50 a week. Ian McKellen on Stage is anecdote as well as acting, so I’ll tell you a story or two about the old days.
“Live theatre has always been thrilling to me, as an actor and in the audience. Growing up in Lancashire, I was grateful to those companies who toured beyond London and I’ve always enjoyed repaying that debt by touring up and down the country myself.”
To book Belgrade tickets, visit www.belgrade.co.uk, or call the box office on 024 7655 3055.
For Stratford, public booking opens at 10am on Wednesday, November 14. Go to: rsc.org.uk or call 01789 331111.