If any one person embodies the phrase, “The show must go on,” it is Sir Ian McKellen.
The actor has been performing the lead role in King Lear at The Duke of York’s Theatre in London, but injured himself Saturday. He hurt himself in a fall while trying to catch his train, rendering him unable to perform in the matinée show that day. While the performance of the play was cancelled, McKellen turned the time into a Q&A session with the audience.
The award-winning actor touched on many topics during the 90-minute session, including his long career as an actor. He joked that he became an actor because it was the only thing he was good at and because he liked to “show off.” On the subject of the modern theater-going experience, he said that he dislikes the use of microphones because he believes they get in the way of connecting with the audience.
McKellen couldn’t let the audience leave without some sort of performance, though. He got in character as the wizard Gandalf from The Lord of the Rings twice and acted several scenes from Shakespeare off the top of his head.
“Determined to give the audience something, he spoke for over an hour about his life, career and love of acting, in particular of Shakespeare to a full house. It was utterly spontaneous, completely natural, and deeply touching. The theatre was full of love and compassion. Check out the actors and stage managers in the wings. We hunched there, delighted.”
At the end, McKellen invited his castmates to join him on stage for a curtain call. He was able to perform the evening show later on in the day.