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Sir Ian McKellen pulls out of theatre tour after stage fall ‘with the greatest reluctance’

The Oscar-nominee fell during a performance of Player Kings at London’s Noël Coward Theatre last month

By Jamie Tabberer

Sir Ian McKellen (far right) and the cast of Player Kings
Sir Ian McKellen (far right) and the cast of Player Kings (Image: Noël Coward Theatre)

Sir Ian McKellen has been forced to pull out of a nationwide tour of Player Kings after falling from the stage during its London run last month.

The Oscar-nominee was hospitalised after the tumble at Noël Coward Theatre on 17 June 2024, although an NHS team told him that night he would make a “speedy recovery”.

The production finished its on June 22 with an understudy. Sir Ian was expected to rejoin the cast for the tour starting in Bristol on 3 July.

“My injuries improve day by day” – Sir Ian McKellen

However, in a statement released today (Monday 1 June 2024), Sir Ian said his is not to be.”Two weeks after my accident onstage, my injuries improve day by day,” he told fans.

“[But] it’s with the greatest reluctance that I have accepted the medical advice to protect my full recovery by not working in the meantime.”

The star, known for The Lord of the Rings franchise and upcoming movie The Critic, continued: “I had been so looking forward to bringing Player Kings to theatre-goers in Bristol, Birmingham, Norwich and Newcastle.

“But I can assure them that, with David Semark now playing Falstaff, Robert Icke’s production and his acting company remain as dazzling as ever. Go see for yourself!”

“He needs the time to rest”

A statement from the team behind Player Kings said: “Following Ian McKellen’s injury during the West End run of Player Kings, his doctors’ advice is to take time off from work in order to fully recover.

“As such, he will not be returning to play Sir John Falstaff in the national tour of Players Kings.

“Ian continues to recuperate very well, but he needs the time to rest and ensure a complete recovery. We continue to send him our best wishes.

“As it was for the final West End performances, the role of Falstaff will now be performed by David Semark, Ian’s brilliant understudy, for all tour dates of Player Kings.”

The 85-year-old was said to have cried out in pain after last month’s fall. Two doctors in the audience came to his aid, as other theatre-goers were evacuated.

One theatre-goer told the BBC the fall was “very shocking. I really hope that he is going to be alright. As far as I saw, he was conscious because he was asking for assistance.”