SIR Ian McKellen is to play one of Shakespeare’s most popular characters for the first time in a revolutionary new adaptation of two of the Bard’s history plays.

Player Kings will be at Manchester Opera House in March for a brief-week run before the production heads to the Noël Coward Theatre in London’s West End.

Lancashire Telegraph: Sir Ian McKellen in Player Kings

The play features an adaptation of Henry IV parts 1 and 2 by award-winning writer and director Robert Icke. Sir Ian will play Falstaff.

Sir Ian, 84, who was born in Burnley and grew up in Barrow Bridge and attended Bolton School, said: “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.”

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 t

“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.”

Sir Ian, who has had a stellar career ranging from Hollywood blockbusters including playing Gandalf in the Lord of the Rings Trilogy to numerous West End successes is passionate about Shakespeare.

He has performed a one-man show celebrating a number of the Bard’s most famous characters. His most recent appearance in Manchester was in the pantomime Mother Goose alongside comedian John Bishop.

Tickets for Player Kings which is at Manchester Opera House from March 14 to 23, 2024 go on sale at 10am tomorrow from

Further casting will be announced at a later date.