London and Broadway

September 1964 - February 1968

Having spent 3 seasons in regional repertory theatre, my self-imposed apprenticeship paid off. I was growing in confidence professionally and had been noticed by the national press during the Nottingham inaugural season. Then the indispensible bit of luck struck. Michael Codron needed a young actor (and I daresay a cheap one) for his latest production in London, a new play, 'A Scent of Flowers' by James Saunders. I was recommended and, without an audition, was hired for my West End debut.

London theatre is a small world and without a break other work followed, beginning with Laurence Olivier's new National Theatre Company at the Old Vic Theatre and followed by some showy parts in plays old and new. Four years after Nottingham, my name had been in lights on Shaftesbury Avenue and I had made an inglorious Broadway debut. — Ian McKellen, October 1999

Theatre Poster
Theatre Poster for "The Promise" (1967)

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The Plays

YearPlaceTitle/WriterDirector/Role
1964Duke of York's
London
A SCENT OF FLOWERS
James Saunders
DIRECTOR: Shirley Butler
ROLE: Godfrey
Clarence Derwent Award as best supporting actor of the year - 50 pounds sterling from British Actors' Equity
1965National Theatre
Old Vic
London
MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING (1965)
William Shakespeare

DIRECTOR: Franco Zeffirelli
ROLE: Claudio

 

1965National Theatre
Chichester Festival
Bristol; Nottingham; Chichester
ARMSTRONG'S LAST GOODNIGHT
John Arden
ROLE: Protestant Evangelist


1965National Theatre
Chichester Festival
Bristol; Nottingham; Chichester
TRELAWNEY OF THE "WELLS"
Arthur Wing Pinero

DIRECTOR: Desmond O'Donovan
ROLE: Capt. de Foenix


1965Hampstead Theatre Club and St Martin's
London
A LILY IN LITTLE INDIA
Donald Howarth

DIRECTOR: Donald Howarth
ROLE: Alvin Hanker


1966Royal Court
London
THEIR VERY OWN AND GOLDEN CITY
Arnold Wesker

DIRECTOR: John Dexter and Bill Gaskill
ROLE: Andrew Cobham
Plays & Players' Most Promising Actor 1966


1966Mermaid
London
THE MAN OF DESTINY / O'FLAHERTY VC
Bernard Shaw

DIRECTOR: Robert Kidd (MOD) / Peter Gill (OFVC)
ROLE: Corporal Napoleon/Private O'Flaherty V.C.


1966Oxford Playhouse
London
THE PROMISE (My Poor Marat)
Aleksei Arbuzov, translated by Ariadne Nicolaeff


DIRECTOR: Frank Hauser
ROLE: Leonidik


1967Oxford Playhouse Company
Fortune Theatre
London
THE PROMISE (1967)
Aleksei Arbuzov, translated by Ariadne Nicolaeff


DIRECTOR: Frank Hauser
ROLE: Leonidik


1967Henry Miller's
New York
THE PROMISE (Broadway)
Aleksei Arbuzov, translated by Ariadne Nicolaeff


DIRECTOR: Frank Hauser
ROLE: Leonidik


1968Lyric
London
THE WHITE LIARS / BLACK COMEDY
Peter Shaffer


ROLE: Tom/Harold Gorringe


1968The Apollo Society
Purcell Room, South Bank
London
Art Reflected
mainly English poets and writers of prose
DIRECTOR: Richard Marquand
ROLE: Reader


Next:
November 1968 - July 1972
Touring, Directing, London

Stage Index

Plays by Title

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