A true stage legend paid a private visit to a town’s theatre to see a rehearsal of a forthcoming amateur production.
Sir Ian McKellen, who played Gandalf in Lord of the Rings, popped into Chorley Little Theatre - the “biggest star” to ever visit the venue.
And while he was there on Monday evening, he enjoyed a tour of the theatre, a glass of red wine, sandwiches - and Chorley Cakes.
Burnley-born Sir Ian, who is patron of the Little Theatre Guild, had earlier been in Wigan - where he lived in his early childhood - to reveal a plaque in his honour.
He made the short trip to Chorley to see a rehearsal of Chorley Amateur Dramatic and Operatic Society’s (CADOS) production of Sherlock Holmes, which is being staged between June 15 and 20.
The exciting visit tied in nicely, as twice Oscar nominee Sir Ian, 76, is starring as Sherlock Holmes in his new film Mr Holmes, out next week.
We performed Acts III and IV, and afterwards he said he was “riveted” by the production, saying it was modern and fresh but still true to the spirit of Conan Doyle.Ian Robinson
On his arrival at the little theatre, Sir Ian was given a tour of the building by CADOS chairman Ian Robinson, which included looking round the dressing rooms, wardrobe and seeing the old proscenium arches from when the venue first opened in 1910.
He met cast and crew, including actor Dave Reid, who is playing Holmes in the local production. before the main event of the evening, a rehearsal of Acts III and IV.
Ian said: “Despite growing up in Wigan this was his first visit to Chorley and the Little Theatre, and he seemed to enjoy himself. We made him welcome with wine, sandwiches and Chorley cakes while he watched a rehearsal.
“We performed Acts III and IV, and afterwards he said he was “riveted” by the production, saying it was modern and fresh but still true to the spirit of Conan Doyle.
“We’re used to big names coming to perform here, but Ian McKellen is by far the biggest star we’ve ever had visit. Star of two Hollywood franchises, and a famous theatrical knight he was a delightful man just as interested in us as we were in him.
“He was particularly impressed at the amount of things we put on, from plays to touring comedy, to films and event cinema and was delighted Chorley has a thriving Little Theatre. He was also impressed at how young most of us are, and the success of the youth theatre.”