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Ian McKellen Explains What Panto is For People Who Don’t Know

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McKellen has recently played roles such as Hamlet and King Lear, but he is also preparing to go to the West End to do panto. And while some critics think that this isn’t art, they don’t understand the importance of panto.

Ian McKellen Explains What Panto is For People Who Don’t Know
Ian McKellen

An 83-year-old man who became a worldwide star playing Gandalf in the Lord of the Rings saga will be making an appearance in Mother Goose at the Duke of York’s Theatre.

He told a news outlet that the show was what everyone needs right now. It’s a good bit of fun.

He said: “The thing about pantomime is it is always changing, it is always getting itself up to date. I’ve always been as keen a theatregoer as I have been an actor and I see things very much from an audience’s point of view and pantomime is very important.

“It’s a family entertainment and kids can go and laugh at the same things as their parents are laughing at and their grandparents.”

The actor, who last played Widow Twankey in Aladdin 20 years ago at the Old Vic, says watching traditional shows was an introduction to theatre when he was a child in Lancashire.

He said: “If you think about it, many theatregoers started off by going to pantomime.

“It is their first experience of the theatre and pantomime has every sort of device of story telling you can come up with.

“There is a moral tale, particularly in Mother Goose, there is singing and there is dancing and there are jokes — and there is sentiment and talking to the audience and the audience talking back and wonderful scenery and music.

“It has got everything and I think that’s why we are so pre-eminent in theatre in this country, it is because we are based on pantomime.”

Coronation Street script writer Jonathan Harvey has created a show that features Sir Ian McKellen and Bishop, both of whom are award-winning actors and comedians. The show is set in Mother Goose’s animal sanctuary.

Sir Ian said that the show is a moral story to not believe wealth will solve your problems and stated “as I have discovered even to my own surprise, riches and success are not going to be the answer to your problems because they probably won’t be”.


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