Lord of the Rings' Gandalf, Sir Ian McKellen, casts his spell again

Worcester News: BACK ON STAGE: Sir Ian McKellen at Malvern Theatres (34343502) Buy this photo » BACK ON STAGE: Sir Ian McKellen at Malvern Theatres (34343502)

WHEN one of the world’s leading actors says he couldn’t wait to return to Malvern to perform his latest play, you can’t help but feel a little proud of your local theatre.

Sir Ian McKellen is back at Malvern Theatres two years after the sell-out production of Waiting for Godot, and he’s hoping to do the same with Eduardo De Filippo’s The Syndicate – a dark comedy about the Italian underworld.

“We broke all the records with Waiting for Godot,” he said, sitting in his dressing room yesterday. “So I was really looking forward to Malvern turning out again.”

Sir Ian – who starred as Gandalf the wizard in the Lord of the Rings movie trilogy – is hoping theatre-lovers of all ages will be spellbound about this play about the Mafia, which predates The Godfather and the Sopranos.

He said: “I do not want people to miss this play. It’s not going to London as I’ve got to go back to New Zealand [where he is filming The Hobbit].

"There are just a few tickets left. I would hate to meet someone in a year who hadn’t managed to see it.”

He speaks passionately about the play, which centres on his character Don Antonio – a man who rules 1950s Naples with a rod of steel handing out his own type of justice, but gets too involved with a young man who wants to kill his father.

“It’s in the Hobbit contract that I have to be able to go to England to do The Syndicate.

"I did three months in New Zealand and all the time I was thinking I will soon be in a rehersal room putting on a play .”

Part of his enthusiasm for the play comes from the fact this is his 50th year as a professional actor, and he wanted to make sure he performed on the stage – although he enjoys films too.

Sir Ian – who plans to make time to do a bit of walking on the Malvern Hills while he is in the county – added: “Fortunately, I do not have to choose between one or the other,” he said.

The Syndicate. Malvern Theatres until Saturday. Tickets cost from £26 to £38. Interview by Flora Drury

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