Loving the theatre restoration

Sir Ian McKellen
Sir Ian McKellen
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SIR Ian McKellen has been keeping an active eye on the restoration of the theatre which was destroyed in the Christchurch earthquake in 2011.

The former Wiganer, who is back in New Zealand working on Sir Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit trilogy, took some time out from his busy schedule to see the rebuild progress of the Isaac Theatre Royal.

An active supporter of the theatre’s recovery, Ian played 15 sold-out shows to more than 7,000 theatregoers across New Zealand last year raising more than $350,000 to help the rebuild of the city’s famous heritage theatre which was badly damaged in the 2011 earthquakes.

Ian donned a high-visibility vest and safety helmet and walked around the building site and familiar backstage areas.

Sir Ian flew back to his Hobbit commitments in Wellington pleased that the rebuild was well underway.

He said: “I am so pleased we found the time to visit and see the progress. I love this beautiful old theatre and feel like a real member of the Isaac Theatre Royal family.”

One of the theatre’s directors and chief executive Neil Cox said: “We are thrilled and honoured with the ongoing support of Sir Ian and were delighted the Minister was able to spend so long on site with us, we are all very grateful for his support for this challenging rebuild project.”

The former X-Men star has also lent his support to Rainbow Youth’s WTF New Zealand campaign to promote gay rights amongst youngsters.

Campaign coordinator Murray Riches said: “It’s truly exciting to have Sir Ian McKellen’s support.

“Sir Ian is a tremendous role model to many young people in New Zealand and shares many of the values the WTF campaign stands for.”

“We are inspired by the work he does combating homophobia in the UK, and the public stand he has taken against discrimination based on gender of sexual diversity.”

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, is due to be released in December, with the final instalment, The Hobbit: There and Back Again, in set for release in late 2014.