The Theatre Royal’s 200 for 200 Sponsored Walk, which is one of the many events to mark the 200th anniversary of they playhouse, has already attracted celebrity endorsement.
It has come from Sir Derek Jacobi, Griff Rhys-Jones and Sophie Raworth, but now Sir Ian McKellen has offered his encouragement and support to the walkers during his recent visit to the theatre for performances as part of his 80th birthday tour.
Sir Ian is no stranger to the theatre in Bury St Edmunds.
With a brick in the wall, a dressing room named after him and a star in the newly created Theatre Star Trail (arranged in collaboration with Our Bury St Edmunds) Sir Ian is one of many stars who knows what it is like to tread the boards at the complex.
Not only has he graced the Theatre Royal’s stage, he actually helped restore the theatre in 2004 when he, along with others, became a Patron of the Restoration and Renovation Appeal and performed in the 2005 Restoration Gala, one of several performances that helped raise over £50,000 towards the restoration.
Sir Ian brought his one-man show, touring 80 theatres in celebration of his 80th birthday, to the Theatre Royal on Friday and Saturday, April 12 and 13, playing to full houses on both nights with a powerful combination of anecdotes, monologues and asides.
The second act included his thoughts on every single one of Shakespeare’s 37 plays and thrilling performances of some of the most famous speeches contained within them.
During his visit he also took time out of his busy schedule to meet the walkers of the 200 for 200 Sponsored Walk and wish them luck as they set off, he even gave his own personal donations to each of their campaigns.
The walk started on Saturday, April 13, and ends on Easter Monday.
Over 200 miles will be covered as the walkers are joined at different legs of the journey by volunteers, supporters, patrons and sponsors.
To support the walkers as they follow the historic path of the Norwich Circuit of Players (led by none other than Theatre Royal architect, William Wilkins) visit the JustGiving page www.justgiving.com/fundraising/200-4-200, and to find out more about the sponsored walk visit www.200for200.org
Pictured above is Sir Ian McKellan with principal walkers Tony Kelly and Dawn Roberts.