Sir Ian McKellen to miss remainder of Player Kings’ London dates following fall

Sir Ian McKellen’s understudy will perform in the play Player Kings for its final London dates while he recuperates following a fall from the stage on Monday.

The veteran screen and stage actor, 85, was performing at the Noel Coward Theatre when he lost his footing in a fight scene and fell from the stage.

After the accident, he was taken to hospital to receive treatment and the remainder of Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday’s performances were cancelled to allow him to rest.

A post on the Player Kings X account on Thursday said: “David Semark will be playing the role of Sir John Falstaff for the final three scheduled performances of Player Kings at the Noel Coward Theatre in London while Ian McKellen recuperates following his fall on Monday 17 June.”

It added: “We look forward to Ian returning to the production, which begins a national tour in Bristol on Wednesday 3 July, before visiting Birmingham, Norwich and Newcastle.”

The final London performances are taking place on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

His understudy, Semark, trained at the Royal Academy Of Dramatic Art (Rada) and has credits in TV shows including EastEnders, Doctors, Law & Order UK and The Bill.

After his fall, The Lord Of The Rings star and Olivier Award-winner Sir Ian thanked everyone who had left messages of support.

On X he wrote: “I want to thank everyone for their kind messages and support.

“Since the accident, during a performance of Player Kings last night, my injuries have been diagnosed and treated by a series of experts, specialists and nurses working for the National Health Service.

“To them, of course, I am hugely indebted. They have assured me that my recovery will be complete and speedy and I am looking forward to returning to work.”

A spokesperson for the London theatre said in a statement to the PA news agency: “Thank you to our audience and the general public for their well wishes following Ian’s fall during this evening’s performance of Player Kings.

“Following a scan, the brilliant NHS team have assured us that he will make a speedy and full recovery and Ian is in good spirits.

“The production has made the decision to cancel the performance on Tuesday June 18 so Ian can rest.”

The statement also thanked doctors Rachel and Lee who were “on hand in the audience” and to the venue staff “for their support”.

A BBC journalist who saw the play said the veteran actor was in a scene involving the Prince of Wales and Henry Percy when he fell off the front of the stage.

The actor was heard to cry out in pain as staff rushed to help.

After the accident, audience members were informed that the remainder of the evening performance had been cancelled and they were evacuated from the premises.

Sir Ian McKellen
Sir Ian McKellen was taken to hospital after the fall (Matt Crossick/PA)

Audience member Paul Critchley, a Methodist minister from Downham Market, Norfolk, told PA it was a “shock” to witness the fall.

“The house lights came up very quickly as the stage management and front of house team dealt with the incident. We were evacuated immediately so that Sir Ian could be treated in privacy”, he said.

Player Kings, a production of Henry IV, parts one and two, adapted and directed by Robert Icke, is due to move to the Bristol Hippodrome in July.

Sir Ian’s career has spanned more than six decades and seen the actor perform at theatres around the country.

On screen he is most known for playing Magneto in the X-Men films and Gandalf in Peter Jackson’s fantasy trilogy, based on the books from JRR Tolkien.

On the stage he has played a number of Shakespearean characters including Richard II, Macbeth, Coriolanus and King Lear.

His many acting credits have led to a number of accolades over the years including several Olivier Awards.

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