Ian McKellen's heartfelt letter of support to under-threat Bolton Little Theatre

Ian McKellen's heartfelt letter of support to under-threat Bolton Little Theatre

Ian McKellen

Ian McKellen's heartfelt letter of support to under-threat Bolton Little Theatre

First published in News The Bolton News: Photograph of the Author by , Entertainment reporter

ACTING legend Sir Ian McKellen has sent a heartfelt letter to Bolton Little Theatre (BLT) in support of its fundraising campaign.

The theatre’s lease on the Hanover Street building expires in 2051, after which the property will be handed over to Bolton Lads and Girls Club (BLGC) — unless they can raise £90,000 to buy it.

The Lord of the Rings actor, who is patron of BLT, was invited to a special evening at the theatre to drum up support and donations.

The 74-year-old was unable to attend due to appearing on Broadway in Becket's Waiting for Godot and Harold Pinter’s No Man’s Land until April so sent a personal letter to the theatre where he appeared as a boy.

He wrote: “Growing up in post-war Bolton, with its three professional theatres, I was spoilt for theatre but most grateful to the Little Theatre.

“It was the amateurs of Hanover Street, the lovers of theatre, who invited young enthusiasts like me in, who risked doing Shakespeare and other classics, plus the new plays like the Christmas entertainments of Alan Cullen.”

Despite having 37 years to raise the cash, an agreement has been drawn up that if members raise the money in the next 12 months, the trustees of BLGC have agreed they will waive their vested interest in the property and the Wigglesworth Trust, which controls the lease, will hand the remainder of the 999 year lease to BLT.

The group has already raised about £70,000 towards the purchase and wants to raise another £25,000 by the end of this year.

Sir Ian’s letter adds: “I hope, as much as you do, that the money is soon raised in full, to re-establish the lease and the continuity that Bolton theatre-goers need and deserve.”

The letter also mentions Alan Cullen, who wrote a number of children’s plays for BLT.

Elizabeth Tatman, Bolton Little Theatre chairman, said: “It’s always good to have something from Sir Ian because he’s been a very good supporter of us since he became famous.

“We have members who remain in contact with him who were the same generation as him at school and the theatre.”

  • Cheque donations can be made out to Bolton Little Theatre and sent to Next Generation Appeal, Bolton Little Theatre, Hanover Street, Bolton, BL1 4TG. b

Sir Ian McKellen's letter

I'm acting on Broadway in Beckett and Pinter until April, otherwise I should be with you tonight. Apologies and greetings to all.
If Michael Shipley should happen to be reading this to you, I'll remind him that we are the oldest of friends and that when he and I acted away at Bolton School in the mid-1950s, he wore tights and I wore a frock!
Growing up in post-war Bolton, with its three professional theatres, I was spoilt for theatre but most grateful to the Little Theatre. It was the amateurs of Hanover Street, the lovers of theatre, who invited young enthusiasts like me in, who risked doing Shakespeare and other classics, plus the new plays like the Christmas entertainments of Alan Cullen.
I acted in a few of these, not very well but I wanted to try hard, in the company of actors like Alan — and the great Geoffrey Banks.
Geoff taught me French at Bolton School but his heart was in acting, eventually as a professional onstage and radio. I saw his Hamlet at BLT, with his ghostly father played by the Bolton Evening News drama critic, John Wardle, real-life father to Irving, The Times drama critic.
So, professional and amateur complement each other and sometimes overlap. Practically all professionals started as amateurs. That's why I've so enjoyed being Patron of the Little Theatre Guild for the past few years, with the opportunity of seeing almost half of our 100 guild-members in action.
Bolton Little Theatre could not have produced live theatre for 80 years, without much talent and great determination.
Long may such virtues thrive — and continue in the theatre you are now in.
I hope, as much as you do, that the money is soon raised in full, to re-establish the lease and the continuity that Bolton theatre-goers need and deserve.


I also hope to see you soon.
Ian McKellen.

Comments (3)

Please log in to enable comment sorting

9:28am Sat 8 Mar 14

marco999 says...

Get your hand in your deep, deep pockets Sir Ian and help the theatre out for gods sake. The money they need will be a mere pittance to a person of your means.
Get your hand in your deep, deep pockets Sir Ian and help the theatre out for gods sake. The money they need will be a mere pittance to a person of your means. marco999
  • Score: 9

10:04am Sat 8 Mar 14

Boltonresident2012 says...

I wonder if the fact that he could have the money set off his tax as charitable donation, plus maybe changing it to "Sir Ian McKellen Theatre " - or even a gold brick somewhere could induce some practical help.

It's all very well saying how much it helped him - it's not going to help future actors if it goes - pulling the ladder up behind him? Cash not compliments!!!
I wonder if the fact that he could have the money set off his tax as charitable donation, plus maybe changing it to "Sir Ian McKellen Theatre " - or even a gold brick somewhere could induce some practical help. It's all very well saying how much it helped him - it's not going to help future actors if it goes - pulling the ladder up behind him? Cash not compliments!!! Boltonresident2012
  • Score: 7

1:59pm Sat 8 Mar 14

hal pel says...

I commented on this a few days ago. What exactly does Sir Ian McKellen's patronage amount to? He was reportedly paid six million pounds to reprise the role of Gandalf in The Hobbit trilogy. Surely he'd be happy to help Bolton Little Theatre secure their future? If Sir Ian doesn't want to stump up the cash, perhaps The Little Theatre's other successful alumni (Justin Chadwick, director of Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, Emmerdale’s Mark Charnock and Simon Trinder) could chip in? Why should the public at large be expected to come up with the cash?
I commented on this a few days ago. What exactly does Sir Ian McKellen's patronage amount to? He was reportedly paid six million pounds to reprise the role of Gandalf in The Hobbit trilogy. Surely he'd be happy to help Bolton Little Theatre secure their future? If Sir Ian doesn't want to stump up the cash, perhaps The Little Theatre's other successful alumni (Justin Chadwick, director of Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, Emmerdale’s Mark Charnock and Simon Trinder) could chip in? Why should the public at large be expected to come up with the cash? hal pel
  • Score: 6

Comments are closed on this article.

Send us your news, pictures and videos

Most read stories

Local Info

Enter your postcode, town or place name

About cookies

We want you to enjoy your visit to our website. That's why we use cookies to enhance your experience. By staying on our website you agree to our use of cookies. Find out more about the cookies we use.

I agree