Serious theatre fans have a reason to suddenly freak out: Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart will team up on Broadway this fall in two of the most iconic plays of the 20th century.
Producers announced Thursday that Stewart and McKellen will star in Harold Pinter’s No Man’s Land and Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot which will play in repertoire under the direction of Sean Mathias.
The Broadway theatre, performance dates, the two supporting actors and the schedule of performances will be announced later.
Stewart and McKellen starred in a production of Waiting for Godot in London’s West End in 2009. Prior to Broadway, they’ll tackle No Man’s Land in an as-yet-unspecified out-of-town tryout this summer.
Mathias said Press all three men struggled to make Waiting for Godot as honest and realistic as possible — an approach they’ll likely replicate with Pinter’s play.
“What we tried to do, with so much effort, was make it real. Make them human beings, compassionate, funny, flawed and vulnerable and cocky — all the things human beings are,” Mathias said. “We never wanted to make it esoteric. I’m sure this is how we will approach the Pinter as well.”
Stewart will play Vladimir in Waiting for Godot and Hirst in No Man's Land and McKellen will play Estragon in Waiting for Godot and Spooner in No Man’s Land.
“My main feeling is it’s lovely to be back with friends and it will be lovely to be back in New York,” said McKellen, who is doing a sit-com in England and next goes to Middle Earth to film scenes for The Hobbit franchise. “But I’ve got an awful lot to do in the meantime.”
Putting the Beckett and Pinter plays together in repertoire makes theatrical sense since both require four male actors and they both mine a surreal, witty vein.
“Both plays play tricks with our memory, with time, with what time is,” said Mathias. “Both plays are dealing with a landscape of poetry, a landscape of psychology, a landscape that is both real and isn’t real. So there are incredible reverberations and resonances.”
Now a thorny question: Who gets top billing on Broadway — McKellen or Stewart? After all, both actors have gotten knighthoods for their services to drama and the performing arts.
“For me there’s no question,” Stewart said. “Ian was a star actor while I was still working in regional theatre. To be absolutely frank, I was in awe of him and his work long before I knew him.”