Edinburgh Fringe: First look at Sir Ian McKellen as Hamlet in Edinburgh

Striking images of Sir Ian McKellen in the new dance version of Hamlet, the hottest ticket at this year's Edinburgh Festival Fringe, have emerged and we can give you a first look at the show, currently running at the Ashton Hall.

Sir Ian is pictured with acclaimed Danish ballet dancer Johan Christensen, with whom he shares the titular role, in the new production directed by Peter Schaufuss.

In the show, Sir Ian performs Hamlet’s famous speeches and soliloquies, remaining on stage throughout the 75 minute performance.

He says, “At a crucial moment in Hamlet, Shakespeare describes in detail a dance, performed by the actors touring through Elsinore. Hamlet says, ‘What a piece of work is a man... how infinite in faculties, in form and moving, how express and admirable in action.’

Sir Ian McKellen and dancer Johan Christensen share the role of Hamlet at Edinburgh Fringe Pic: Devin de Vil

“The same could be said of Peter Schaufuss and his company of wonderful dancers. It’s inspiring to watch them and work with them.”

In a long and distinguished career, Sir Ian has played Hamlet twice, in productions 50 years apart. In 1971 he took the role on tour and in the West End and then last year, at the age of 81, he revisited it in a sell-out age, colour, and gender-blind production at Windsor’s Theatre Royal.


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Taken by Devin de Vil, the released images show Sir Ian and Christensen in action on the stage of the Ashton Hall in St Stephen's Theatre, Stockbridge. In one, both are dressed in white, Sir Ian holding a tambourine, Christensen, a goblet.

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Sir Ian McKellen and dancer Johan Christensen share the role of Hamlet at the Edinburgh Fringe Pic: Devin de Vil

The other picture finds Sir Ian’s brightly clad older Hamlet embracing Christensen's equally colourful younger Prince of Denmark.

Also performing at every performance will be Luke Schaufuss, Stefan Wise and artists from the Edinburgh Festival Ballet and, throughout the run, the Hamlet beanie hats worn by the Hollywood star during performances will be auctioned to support a bursary in his name to help future students at Edinburgh Festival Ballet School. The beanie worn in the first performance raised £450.

Hamlet, which runs until August 28, is the fastest selling show on this year’s Fringe with only very limited VIP ticket availability remaining. It launches the 400-seat Ashton Hall at Saint Stephen's Theatre, as the Capital's newest performance venue.


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It is named after the famous choreographer, the late Sir Frederick Ashton.

Sir Ian McKellen and Johan Christensen depicted in the front of house signage for Hamlet at the Ashton Hall, Edinburgh

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