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In 1982 Long before his incredible performances as Gandalf in the Lord of the Rings, I discovered Royal Shakespeare Company member, Ian Mckellan on PBS in a little show called Acting Shakespeare. Entering a bare stage, in everyday clothing he delivered Jacques "all the worlds a stage speech from as you like it with all consummate skill and seriousness finished the soliloquy, and then confided he never much liked that particular comedy because it doesn't have enough jokes and the really good speech by Jacques is over used by people like himself to open their one man shows. From there Mckellan with impish wit and humor proceeded to discourse on the plays, his own relationship with the theater and speculates on how the young boy from Stratford found the theater and his calling as a writer. The show was great was story telling and an instructional guide to actors. The show was a comedy routine interwoven with some of the most compelling acting I'd seen in my young life. (Imagine a forty-ish Mckellan performing Juliet with out costume and pulling it off) Unfortunately, this show does not seem to have been released to video. Here's hoping that with the Mckellan's current surge in popularity, someone will unearth this gem and show the current generation, how much more there is to their "Gandalf".
I saw this on Broadway when he did it live and it was breathtaking!
Words cannot describe how wonderful he was and the array of
characters he portrayed were like a "who's who" from
Then when it came to TV as a special I watched it every time it was
on. That was before I had a VCR so I could not tape it. I have been
looking for YEARS for this to come out on video. No luck..
Just to see him do the "Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow"
speech from Macbeth is worth any price. Sir Ian, you are the
I saw this on television many years ago and taped it but my copy is very bad. I've been hoping that it would be made available on VHS or DVD. It was my introduction to Ian McKellan. After it appeared on television it came to the National theater here in Washington, DC and I rushed for tickets. It's simply fabulous. So entertaining and educational (shhhh you don't have to tell anyone that) I cannot remember all the plays or speeches he gives in this production but it certainly is enough to give you a flavor of not only the play but how it sounded as the language and acting styles have changed over the years. It's very amusing to hear the acting style from the late 1800's for instance. And the language has changed so much since the 1600's it almost unrecognizable as English. This is one production that deserves to be offered on VHS or DVD.
I just saw this it's just fantastic - a crime that it is not published.
McKellen performs a wide range of characters (old, young, male, female)
amazingly. He does a ten minute medley from Romeo and Juliet playing both
parts, a scene between Hamlet, Polonious and the Player King, and a speech
from the soon to be Richard the Third from Henry VI part III that makes
This is nothing less than amazing
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