Ambassador Theatre Group Productions has announced a new production, Player Kings, adapted by Robert Icke from William Shakespeare’s Henry IV, Parts 1 and 2. Plus, Burnley-born, Bolton School alumni and Lord of the Rings legend, Ian McKellen will take on the role of John Falstaff in Player Kings.
The production will preview at New Wimbledon Theatre on March 1, 2024 until March 9, 2024. Bringing together Shakespeare’s two great history plays (Henry IV, parts 1 and 2), Player Kings will reign over Manchester Opera House between March 14 and 23, 2024 before running at the Noël Coward Theatre between April 1 – June 22, 2024.
Robert Icke said: “It’s a genuine honour to work with one of our greatest Shakespearean actors, Ian McKellen, especially as he tackles one of the most iconic Shakespearean roles – and one he’s previously never turned his hand to.
“It’s an exciting challenge to bring together two of Shakespeare’s plays into one production, and I’m so excited to share Player Kings with audiences in the West End and across the country. I’m also thrilled that we’ll have at least 60 dedicated £30 tickets for those under 30 at every performance, including in some prime spots in the auditorium.”
Ian McKellen also commented: “I decided to become a professional actor at Cambridge in 1959, when I was in John Barton’s undergraduate production of Henry IV. Derek Jacobi played Prince Hal and I was the ancient Justice Shallow. Ever since, the plays have been among my favourite Shakespeares, although through the years I’ve resisted offers to play John Falstaff. Robert Icke’s ingenious adaptation was irresistible.”
A divided country, leadership crumbling, corruption in the air. Welcome to England. Hal wasn’t born to be king. Only now, it seems, he will be. His father longs for him to leave behind his friends in the taverns of Eastcheap, most notably the infamous John Falstaff. War is on the horizon. But will Hal ever come good?
Ian McKellen has been a leading man and produced plays, modern and classic, for the Royal Shakespeare Company and the National Theatre of Great Britain and in the West End of London. In Shakespeare he has triumphed as Richard II, Macbeth (with Judi Dench), Coriolanus, Iago, Richard III (also on film) and most recently as King Lear (twice) and as an 80 year old Hamlet in Sean Mathias’ upcoming film. For over a decade, he toured his one-man show, Acting Shakespeare, at home and abroad.
McKellen is recognised worldwide as Magneto in the X-Men films and as Gandalf in The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies. In 2019 McKellen became the first actor to top The Stage 100 list of most influential people in British theatre, following his triumphant UK Tour and West End run of Ian McKellen on Stage which raised £5 million to support regional theatres.
Tickets for Player Kings starring Ian McKellen at Manchester Opera House are available to ATG+ members from today, November 15 at 12pm; with general booking open from tomorrow (November 16) at 10am. Across the three venues there will be 8,000 tickets at £30 or under exclusively for under 30s – with at least 60 tickets available for every performance located across all levels of the auditorium. Available to book from general on sale here.