Sir Ian McKellen withdraws from national tour following stage fall

David Semark will step into Sir Ian’s role of Sir John Falstaff for the national tour, which begins on Wednesday.

Sir Ian McKellen has said it is with “the greatest reluctance” he is taking medical advice to “protect my full recovery” and withdraw from the national tour of Player Kings, following his fall from a West End stage.

The veteran screen and stage actor, 85, was performing at the Noel Coward Theatre when he lost his footing in a fight scene and fell from the stage last month.

After the accident, he was taken to hospital to receive treatment and the remainder of two shows were cancelled to allow him to rest, before his understudy stepped in to finish the rest of the run in the West End.

It has now been confirmed the understudy, David Semark, will also step into Sir Ian’s role of Sir John Falstaff for the national tour, which begins on Wednesday.

A statement from Sir Ian said: “Two weeks after my accident onstage, my injuries improve day by day.

“It’s with the greatest reluctance that I have accepted the medical advice to protect my full recovery by not working in the meantime.

“I had been so looking forward to bringing Player Kings to theatre-goers in Bristol, Birmingham, Norwich and Newcastle.

“But I can assure them that, with David Semark now playing Falstaff, Robert Icke’s production and his acting company remain as dazzling as ever. Go see for yourself!”

A statement from the production added: “Following Ian McKellen’s injury during the West End run of Player Kings, his doctors’ advice is to take time off from work in order to fully recover.

“As such, he will not be returning to play Sir John Falstaff in the national tour of Players Kings (3-27 July 2024).

“Ian continues to recuperate very well, but he needs the time to rest and ensure a complete recovery. We continue to send him our best wishes.

“As it was for the final West End performances, the role of Falstaff will now be performed by David Semark, Ian’s brilliant understudy, for all tour dates of Player Kings.”

Player Kings, a production of Henry IV, parts one and two, adapted and directed by Robert Icke, is due to move to the Bristol Hippodrome on July 3.

Semark trained at the Royal Academy Of Dramatic Art (Rada) and has credits in TV shows including EastEnders, Doctors, Law & Order UK and The Bill.

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