Sir Ian McKellen is Georgian Theatre Royal’s star turn during Spring and Summer season

Ian McKellen. Photo: Oliver Rosser.

Sir Ian McKellen is the star turn of the 2019 Spring and Summer Season at The Georgian Theatre Royal in Richmond.

Alongside him are many other leading performers from the world of drama, comedy and music who are also treading the historic boards in the new programme.

People wanting to see Ian McKellen’s much-talked-about 80th birthday show on June 14 have until January 31 to enter a public ballot for free tickets.

Sir Ian has chosen the UK’s oldest working theatre in its original form as one of the venues for his solo tour and the Theatre is keen to share this exciting event with audience members.

Further details, including the ballot form, are on the theatre’s website www.georgiantheatreroyal.co.uk.

All other shows can be booked in the usual way at the box office or online.

Opening the Spring and Summer Season on March 1 are Living Spit theatre company with Giants of Science, a raucous romp for adult audiences through the hilarious history of science.

This follows last year’s highly praised production from the comic duo of The Six Wives of Henry VIII.

Other well-established audience favourites are Pipeline Theatre, known for its indelible characters and soul-searching productions, who return on March 7 with Drip, Drip, Drip – a darkly comic drama about the NHS.

Rhodri Miles, who will be warmly remembered for his recent biographical exposé of Richard Burton, stars in Gareth Armstrong’s award-winning solo play Shylock on March 15.

Heritage Opera returns with Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro on June 22 and Dyad Productions, the creators of Austen’s Women, I, Elizabeth, The Unremarkable Death of Marilyn Monroe, and Jane Eyre: An Autobiography are back on May 30 with Orlando – based on Virginia Woolf’s intriguing satirical novel.

The popular Vienna Festival Ballet have performed on several occasions at the Georgian Theatre Royal and this year they are offering a unique opportunity for ballet fans to experience an onstage rehearsal.

Malvolio Gordon Duffy-McGhie. Photo: Helen J. Brown.

The audience will witness how dancers prepare for performance and have plenty of opportunity to ask questions.

The evening on April 1 will also include short excerpts from the ballet Coppelia.

Over the last few seasons, the Theatre has built up an enviable reputation for comedy. First to take up the comedy mike are the legendary double act Cannon and Ball on March 28.

They are followed by stand-up comedian Ivo Graham – a TV and radio show regular – on April 4; and 1001 Moments with Troy Hawke – one of the British Fringe Guide’s Top Recommended shows for the last couple of years – on April 18.

Also appearing is impressionist and chart-topping pianist, Alistair McGowan with his Introductions to Classical Piano on 3 May; and one of the country’s most sought-after comedy club headliners The Noise Next Door will display their lightning-quick wit on May 16.

Music lovers are set for a varied programme of performances with everything from baroque to rock and roll. Acclaimed musicians Chris Green and Sophie Matthews present 600 years of musical history in 90 fun-packed minutes on 8 March.

Long-serving troubadour of the folk and acoustic music scene, Steve Knightley, will share his life on the road on 16 March; and following a runaway success in London’s West End, David Scheel offers a hilarious send-up of classical music in Don’t Shoot Me, I’m Only the Piano Player on 31 May.

A tribute to the ‘King of Rock and Roll’ himself is delivered by JD King on 6 April, a performer who has had more 5-star reviews than any other Elvis impersonator; and 10CCLO, the world’s only tribute to 10CC and ELO, are set to entertain fans of both bands on May 4.

The Weaver Ensemble will present The Fairest Lady – a re-telling of the Pygmalion story with elegant baroque dance and live music on June 5, as part of the Swaledale Festival.

Three separate choirs take centre stage during the season.

In a performance designed to appeal to children and adults alike, young singers from Opera North’s children’s choruses will share why they think dragons should be taken seriously in Don’t Call a Dragon a Worm! on April 28.

Northern Voices will demonstrate their extensive repertoire in a fundraising concert for Herriot Hospice Homecare on 18 May; and the Military WAGS Choir aim to raise the rafters on July 6.

Cutting edge dramas will unfold with the much-acclaimed solo play Quentin Crisp: Naked Hope on March 9, followed by I, Malvolio – the story of Twelfth Night told through the eyes of Shakespeare’s most pent-up steward on April 26.

Local interest will be stirred by Where is Mrs Christie? on April 5, the intriguing story of Agatha Christie’s real-life mystery in 1926 when the famous writer disappeared and was found 11 days later at a luxury hotel in Harrogate.

Also featured in the Spring and Summer Programme are dramas – Short Stories and A Small Family Business – and the musical – Sister Act – from our talented community groups; as well as performances by students from Richmond School & Sixth Form College and The Georgian Theatre Royal’s Youth Theatre.

Details of all shows and events are given in the newly published programme brochure available at the Box Office, via the website (www.georgiantheatreroyal.co.uk) or by calling the Box Office on 01748 825252.