Sir Ian McKellen just ended his run of fifteen one-man shows throughout New Zealand in an effort to raise funds to restore the earthquake-damaged theater in Christchurch. It's now been reported that, on completion of these shows, McKellen is responsible for bringing in $354,000 to be contributed to the Isaac Theatre Royal.
Alongside McKellen's fundraising, another $100,000 was raised by a Flight of the Conchords concert, and $10,000 by a performance by British actress Miriam Margolyes and a personal donation by actor and writer Richard O’Brien.
According to Middle-earth Network:
The restoration work on the theatre began on Monday, the first stage being to restore the theatre’s iconic dome. In special recognition of Sir Ian’s contribution, one of the Royal boxes at the Isaac Theatre Royal, currently known as “The Bard’s Box” for it’s bust of William Shakespeare, will become the Ian McKellen Royal Suite.
Isaac Theatre Royal general manager Neil Cox was quoted saying:
It’s been a very special two months. The theatre is one of the few historic buildings in Christchurch to survive the earthquakes and it is wonderful to know it can be rebuilt and serve as a beacon for Canterbury people. To Ian, Richard, Jemaine, Bret and Miriam, our heartfelt thanks and appreciation.
In one of his final shows, McKellen was joined by numerous cast members from The Hobbit, to the delight and surprise of the audience. It was reported that Aidan Turner, Richard Armitage, Luke Evans and Martin Freeman all appeared for an on-stage finale with audience participation.
During the shows, the first half focused on McKellen's famous role as Gandalf in Peter Jackson's adaptations of Tolkien's works, detailing how he got involved and what his experience has been like over the years. He would then discuss the countless other theatrical roles he's played, from Shakespeare and beyond, including speeches and...at the end...he would call upon audience members to take on the part of dead French soldiers while he delivers an inspirational speech on their behalf.
After all of this, audiences had the chance to contribute to the Christchurch rebuilding fund.