McKellan to miss play’s final London shows after stage fall

Ian McKellan to miss play’s final London shows after stage fall

12 minutes ago

By Guy Lambert, @guybertieEntertainment Reporter

GettyThe multi-award winning actor is expected to return to the Player Kings cast when the show moves to Bristol

Sir Ian McKellen will not be returning to his starring role for the final three West End performances of Player Kings, after falling from the stage on 17 June.

It is hoped the veteran actor will return to the cast when the play moves to Bristol on 3 July.

The role of Sir John Falstaff will be played instead by David Semark, who plays Sir Richard Vernon but is also Sir Ian’s understudy, the play’s production team said.

Sir Ian, 85, has been unavailable to perform since his fall during a live performance of the play at the Noel Coward Theatre.

The actor said he is having “physiotherapy, light exercise and a lot of essential rest at home” after three nights in hospital.

Full recovery expected

The Player Kings X account posted the show would continue with Semark “while Ian McKellen recuperates following his fall”, adding: “We look forward to Ian returning to the production.”

Semark’s theatre credits include The Mousetrap and Richard III for the RSC, while his TV appearances include Hustle and Law and Order UK.

Adapted by award-winning writer and director Robert Icke, Player Kings brings together two of Shakespeare’s great history plays, Henry IV Parts 1 & 2, in a new interpretation.

The play began preview showings at the Noel Coward Theatre in London on 1 April and closes on 22 June, before travelling to Bristol, Birmingham, Norwich and Newcastle.

The actor had been performing in a fight scene when he lost his footing.

It was reported that he cried out in pain, calling for help, and a staff member rushed to assist him. He was taken to hospital and the play was cancelled.

A theatre spokesperson later said Sir Ian had undergone a scan and medics said he would “make a speedy and full recovery”.

GettySir Ian McKellen and cast at the curtain call during the press night performance on 11 April, 2024

In a message on X the day after his fall, Sir Ian said “I want to thank everyone for their kind messages and support.”

“My injuries have been diagnosed and treated by a series of experts, specialists and nurses working for the National Health Service. To them, of course, I am hugely indebted.

“They have assured me that my recovery will be complete and speedy and I am looking forward to returning to work.”

Five years ago, the Olivier Award winning actor was forced to cancel a showing of King Lear at London’s Duke of York theatre, after sustaining a leg injury while running to catch a train.

He ensured the audience was in for a good time, by sitting on stage and answering questions.

Player Kings started its 12-week West End run in April, and the actor told the BBC at the time that he was “finally playing the role he always said no to”.

He explained that he almost turned down the the opportunity again, but was “intrigued and eventually persuaded” by director Robert Icke who has “turned Falstaff into a believable character rather than an exaggeration”.

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