Sir Ian McKellen at Lyme Regis

THEATRE legend and Lord of the Rings’ Gandalf, Sir Ian McKellen brought his 80th birthday one-man stage show to Lyme Regis’s Marine Theatre as part of a series of events to celebrate the venue’s 125th anniversary.

In glorious sunshine, members of the community shared the memorable evening alongside guests such as Sir Tom Stoppard and Deep Purple’s singer Ian Gillan, who is a patron of the Marine.

The show included readings of poetry and Tolkien, scenes from Shakespeare, and fascinating anecdotes from the much loved actor’s career. On stage Sir Ian produced Glamdring—the sword from Lord of the Rings used by Gandalf. A young member of the audience was invited on stage for a playful selfie with the prop.

After the show, Sir Ian shared a drink and conversations with audience members in the bar.

One of the aims of the evening, and the other dates on this nationwide tour, was to raise money for the venue. Sir Ian took no fee and the money raised will be used to relaunch a youth theatre project and to restore the dressing rooms, which may have some of the best views in the world, but are in need of rejuvenation.

Gabby Rabbitts, director of the Marine, said: “Sir Ian’s performance will not be forgotten—his talent, generosity, and friendliness are moving. It was a reminder that one of the reasons to visit the theatre is to watch superb acting.”

Sir Ian said “Live theatre has always been thrilling to me, as an actor and in the audience…I’m delighted to be making my debut in Lyme Regis as part of the UK tour celebrating my 80th birthday. I’m pleased that all profits will support the youth theatre and help update the Marine’s dressing rooms.”

Pictureed: Sir Ian McKellen relaxing in the Lyme Regis sunshine; Deep Purple guitarist and Marine Theatre patron Ian Gillan (right) with the theatre’s marketing officer John Puckey.