A MUCH-loved actor paid a visit to a west Dorset theatre, sharing poetry and Tolkien readings, scenes from Shakespeare and fascinating anecdotes from a long-spanning career.

Sir Ian McKellen appeared at the Marine Theatre, Lyme Regis, for a joint birthday celebration.

McKellen performed a one-man stage show at the theatre as part of a series of events to celebrate the arts venue’s 125th anniversary. The tour also marks the actor’s 80th birthday. Members of the community shared the memorable evening alongside guests such as Sir Tom Stoppard and Deep Purple singer Ian Gillan, who is a patron of the Marine.

On stage, McKellen produced Glamdring—the sword from Lord of the Rings used by Gandalf, one of his signature film roles. A young member of the audience was invited on stage for a playful selfie with the prop. After the show, the actor shared a drink and conversations with audience members in the bar.

One of the aims of the evening was to raise money for the venue, and McKellen took no fee. The money raised will be used to relaunch a youth theatre project and to restore the dressing rooms, which may have some of the best views in the world, but are in need of rejuvenation.

Marine director, Gabby Rabbitts, said: “Sir Ian’s performance will not be forgotten—his talent, generosity, and friendliness are moving. It was a reminder that one of the reasons to visit the theatre is to watch superb acting. Thanks to all the local businesses who helped with the event or sent gifts to Sir Ian, in particular Simon Emmett, The Royal Lion, Kathrens Knitwear, Dorset Cereals, and Groves Nurseries.”

McKellen said: “Live theatre has always been thrilling to me, as an actor and in the audience. I’m delighted to be making my debut in Lyme Regis as part of the UK tour celebrating my 80th birthday. I’m pleased that all profits will support the youth theatre and help update the Marine’s dressing rooms.”