Snobs don’t understand what panto’s about, says new Mother Goose star Ian McKellen

Snobs don’t understand what panto’s about, says new Mother Goose star Ian McKellen

John Bishop, Mel Giedroyc and Sir Ian McKellen will appear in Mother Goose (Getty Images)

His recent roles include Hamlet and King Lear but Sir Ian McKellen is preparing to do panto in the West End — and said critics who are snobbish about it do not understand the art form.

The 83-year-old actor, who became a worldwide star playing the wizard Gandalf in the Lord of the Rings saga, will appear alongside John Bishop and Mel Giedroyc in Mother Goose at the Duke of York’s Theatre.

He told the Standard the show was the “bit of fun everyone needs at this time”.

He said: “The thing about pantomime is it is always changing, it is always getting itself up to date. I’ve always been as keen a theatregoer as I have been an actor and I see things very much from an audience’s point of view and pantomime is very important.

“It’s a family entertainment and kids can go and laugh at the same things as their parents are laughing at and their grandparents.”

Snobs don’t understand what panto’s about, says new Mother Goose star Ian McKellen

(Getty Images)

The actor, who last appeared in pantomime when he played Widow Twankey in Aladdin at the Old Vic almost 20 years ago, said watching the traditional shows had been among his earliest introductions to the world of theatre when he was growing up in Lancashire.

He said: “If you think about it, many theatregoers started off by going to pantomime.

“It is their first experience of the theatre and pantomime has every sort of device of story telling you can come up with.

“There is a moral tale, particularly in Mother Goose, there is singing and there is dancing and there are jokes — and there is sentiment and talking to the audience and the audience talking back and wonderful scenery and music.

“It has got everything and I think that’s why we are so pre-eminent in theatre in this country, it is because we are based on pantomime.”

The show, directed by award-winning director Cal McCrystal and written by Coronation Street script writer Jonathan Harvey, is set in Mother Goose’s animal sanctuary and stars Sir Ian and stand-up star Bishop as the couple in charge when comedian and presenter Giedroyc’s goose arrives to cause chaos.

Sir Ian said the show was a “good moral story that you should not think riches and success are going to be the answer to your problems because they probably won’t be”.

Mother Goose opens for the Christmas season on December 15 and runs to January 29 before touring the UK

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