Ian McKellen Is The New Mother Goose

By Matthew Creith | Published

Sir Ian McKellen didn’t earn the title of “Sir” for just anything, as the longtime stage and screen legend was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II long before her passing this year at the age of 96. The actor known for stunning portrayals in popular film franchises like The Lord of the Rings and X-Men has been admired for his work on Broadway and London’s West End for decades, as it seems the Academy Award nominee and Tony Award winner can do no wrong. Now, it appears that Sir Ian McKellen might be taking on the role of a lifetime in Mother Goose this winter, and luckily for audiences, it will be a pantomime production of the famous story.

According to a report by Variety, Ian McKellen will appear in Mother Goose on the London stage, making the announcement today at a press conference alongside comedian Josh Bishop where McKellen materialized from a giant golden egg to promote the new show. McKellen will portray the titular character and Bishop is set to play McKellen’s husband in the show at the Theatre Royal Brighton in the United Kingdom. The show’s pantomime performances will begin this December with plans to move to the West End and possibly a larger tour around the United Kingdom thereafter, marking the first time that Ian McKellen will perform in a pantomime fashion.

While pantomiming is often regarded as a semi-dead tradition of performing in much of the United States and the Western world, it is an art form that has long been well-regarded in British arts and culture. Christmas time is typically when many of these pantomime performances take place in the United Kingdom, often geared towards children and families to mark the holidays and share in some famous fairytales like Jack and the Beanstalk, Cinderella, and now an updated version of Mother Goose. Some of these performances can include a character in drag and actors playing roles of the opposite gender, but it has not been confirmed if Ian McKellen or any of the other actors in Mother Goose will appear in drag for their performances this winter.

lord of the rings ian mckellen
Ian Mckellen in The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001)

No stranger to the stage for the entirety of his career, Ian McKellen has enjoyed a lengthy resume playing characters in both the United Kingdom and the United States before starring in The Lord of the Rings opposite Elijah Wood, Orlando Bloom, Cate Blanchett, and Viggo Mortensen. The British actor was nominated for the Tony Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role in a Play in 1984 for his performance on Broadway in Acting Shakespeare, an award he previously took home in 1981 for his lead performance as composer Antonio Salieri the play Amadeus. Prior to his work in film and television in remarkable projects like the X-Men franchise, his Academy Award nominated performance in Gods and Monsters, Richard III, and The Hobbit, McKellen had acted in plays since the early 1960s when he starred in the British production of A Man for All Seasons in 1961.