Sir Ian McKellen pulls out of play tour after nightmare stage fall

Sir Ian McKellen has pulled out of the UK tour of his new play as he continues to recover from a horror stage fall.

The ‘The Lord of the Rings’ acting veteran, who turned 85 in May, was rushed to hospital on 17 June from the Noel Coward Theatre on London’s West End when he lost his footing in a fight scene while playing Shakespeare’s drunken raconteur John Falstaff in a production of ‘Player Kings’ and plunged from the stage into the audience.

Despite reports soon after his fall he would rejoin the cast when the play goes on tour across Britain, Ian has now said he has been forced to withdraw with “the greatest reluctance” as he is taking medical advice to “protect my recovery”.

The actor added in a statement on Monday (01.07.24): “Two weeks after my accident onstage, my injuries improve day by day.

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

“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!”

After his fall, the rest of Sir Ian’s performances for the last week of ‘Player Kings’ run in in London were cancelled to allow him to rest.

The production came to a finish in the city on 22 June, but Sir Ian was expected to rejoin the cast when the play started on its UK tour with a show in Bristol on 3 July.

A statement from the production added about his exit from the tour: “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 ‘Player Kings’ (3–27 July 2024.)

“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’.”