Trevor Nunn helms the Royal Shakespeare Company productions in their U.S. premiere, having previously debuted in March 2007 at Stratford-upon-Avon's Courtyard Theatre. Following the conclusion of the BAM run on Sept. 30, McKellen and company will take The Seagull and King Lear to the Guthrie Theatre in Minnesota (beginning Oct. 5) and Los Angeles' Royce Hall (beginning Oct. 19). The productions will then return to London for a West End run at the New London Theatre, which is scheduled to commmence Nov. 12.
McKellen takes on the sisyphean challenge of playing Lear for all 15 performances of King Lear; he will alternate with fellow company member William Gaunt in the role of Sorin for select performances of The Seagull.
The two productions run in repertory at BAM's Harvey Theatre, with King Lear beginning performances on Sept. 6 and The Seagull opening Sept. 7.
Joining McKellen are RSC company members Ben Addis, Frances Barber, Adam Booth, Zoe Boyle, Russell Byrne, Naomi Capron, Monica Dolan, Romola Garai, William Gaunt, Richard Goulding, Julian Harries, John Heffernan, Peter Hinton, Jonathan Hyde, Melanie Jessop, Gerald Kyd, Seymour Matthews, Sylvester McCoy, Ian McKellen, Ben Meyjes, David Weston, Guy Williams and Philip Winchester.
The design team for both King Lear and The Seagull includes set design by Christopher Oram, lighting design by Neil Austin, music by Steve Edis, sound design by Fergus O'Hare and fight choreography by Malcolm Ransom. Nunn points out the similarities between the two dramas, stating, "Both plays explore the fear that one generation has of another. The older generation fears the young taking over. The younger generation is impatient and in fear of having to continue with the older generation around. The characters in both plays are confused and frightened by their mortality. Both plays seem to believe that the idea of endurance is more important than any other human belief. It is necessary to endure."
Ian McKellen's career highlights include the Broadway productions of Amadeus and Dance of Death as well as the films "Gods and Monsters," "Lord of the Rings" and "X-Men."
Trevor Nunn will return to Broadway this fall, directing the U.S. premiere of Tom Stoppard's Rock 'n' Roll for Lincoln Center Theater. He delivered Tony-winning direction for The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby, Les Misérables and Cats on Broadway. McKellen and Nunn previously collaborated on Macbeth and Othello.
King Lear has currently sold-out its BAM engagement; however, select tickets are still available for The Seagull. For ticket information call (718) 636-4100 or visit www.BAM.org.