Ian McKellen to star in ‘Mother Goose’ pantomime

Mel Giedroyc and John Bishop will also star.

Sophie Thomas
Sophie Thomas

UPDATE: Mel Giedroyc will no longer star in Mother Goose. In a statement on 19 October, Giedroyc said: "Due to personal reasons, I have made the difficult decision to withdraw from the forthcoming production of Mother Goose. I am thankful to the producers of the show for being so understanding and wish everyone involved in the production a fantastic tour throughout the UK and Ireland. Now, more than ever we all need a bit of joy, and I can’t wait to see it myself. I know it is going to be fantastic.”

Oh no he isn’t? Oh yes he is! Ian McKellen will star in a nationwide touring pantomime of Mother Goose, with a West End season at the Duke of York’s Theatre. Mother Goose is at the Duke of York’s Theatre from 15 December to 29 Jan. 2023.

The six-time Olivier winning actor Ian McKellen will play Mother Goose. He last performed in the West End in 2019 in his one-man show at the Harold Pinter Theatre. McKellen starred in Aladdin at the Old Vic in 2004 and 2005. In reviews of McKellen in pantomime, our critic said: “Ian McKellen, is a superb panto dame, his cheeks covered in rouge, hair in curlers and wearing the most garish outfits imaginable, one quickly realises from his cheerful demur that this is a role he has been longing for. As cracking as Ian McKellen looks, his Widow Twankey delighted more because of the absurdity of watching one of our great classical actor's camp it up in outrageous drag, than because of the usual panto madness…”

John Bishop will star in Mother Goose as Vic Goose and Anna-Jane Casey as Cilla the Goose. The company includes Oscar Conlon-Morrey as Jack, Simbi Akande as Jill, Sharon Ballard as Evil Fairy Malignia and Karen Mavundukure as Good Fairy Encanta. Adam Brown, Gabriel Fleary, Richard Leeming, Genevieve Nicole, Mairi Barclay, Becca Francis, Shailan Gohil and Laura Tyrer also star.

Jonathan Harvey writes the Mother Goose story, and Cal McCrystal directs. The show features set and costume design by Liz Ascroft, choreography by Lizzi Gee, lighting design by Prema Mehta, and sound design by Ben Harrison.

Mother Goose begins a nationwide tour at Theatre Royal Brighton, before a West End season. Performances then continue at Chichester, Sheffield, Wolverhampton, Liverpool, Oxford, Dublin and Cardiff.

The Mother Goose pantomime tells of a goose who lays golden eggs, and dates back to ancient Greek legend. Mother Goose premiered at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane in 1902, when writer J. Hickory Wood wrote a pantomime for Dan Leno.

Mother Goose is at the Duke of York’s Theatre.

Photo credit: Ian McKellen in Ian McKellen on Stage at Harold Pinter Theatre (Photo courtesy of production)

Originally published on

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