Ian McKellen Sends Letter of Support to His Hometown Theatre in Bolton
According to The Bolton News, The Bolton Little Theatre is at risk of losing its home. In 2051, their lease will expire and the property will be handed over to the Bolton Lads and Girls Club- unless they can afford to buy it at £90,000. While it seems like they have enough time, BLT was offered a no-interest deal if they can afford to buy the property by the end of the year.
Current star of NO MAN'S LAND and WAITING FOR GODOT on Broadway, Ian McKellen, who grew up in Bolton, sent a heartfelt letter to his childhood theatre offering support and encouragement.
"I'm acting on Broadway in Beckett and Pinter until April, otherwise I should be with you tonight. Apologies and greetings to all. If Michael Shipley should happen to be reading this to you, I'll remind him that we are the oldest of friends and that when he and I acted away at Bolton School in the mid-1950s, he wore tights and I wore a frock. Growing up in post-war Bolton, with its three professional theatres, I was spoilt for theatre but most grateful to the Little Theatre. It was the amateurs of Hanover Street, the lovers of theatre, who invited young enthusiasts like me in, who risked doing Shakespeare and other classics, plus the new plays like the Christmas entertainments of Alan Cullen. I acted in a few of these, not very well but I wanted to try hard, in the company of actors like Alan - and the great Geoffrey Banks. Geoff taught me French at Bolton School but his heart was in acting, eventually as a professional onstage and radio. I saw his Hamlet at BLT, with his ghostly father played by the Bolton Evening News drama critic, John Wardle, real-life father to Irving, The Times drama critic. So, professional and amateur complement each other and sometimes overlap. Practically all professionals started as amateurs. That's why I've so enjoyed being Patron of the Little Theatre Guild for the past few years, with the opportunity of seeing almost half of our 100 guild-members in action. Bolton Little Theatre could not have produced live theatre for 80 years, without much talent and great determination. Long may such virtues thrive - and continue in the theatre you are now in. I hope, as much as you do, that the money is soon raised in full, to re-establish the lease and the continuity that Bolton theatre-goers need and deserve.
I also hope to see you soon.
McKellen has also appeared on Broadway in Dance of Death, Ian McKellen: A Knight Out at the Lyceum, Wild Honey, Ian McKellen: Acting Shakespeare, Amadeus -- for which he won a 1981 Tony Award -- and The Promise. He is well known for his role as Gandolf in The Lord of the Rings films and Magneto in the X-Men movie franchise.
Photo Credit: Walter McBride