Written by William Shakespeare

Directed by Franco Zeffirelli

Ian McKellen in the role of Claudio

Old Vic, London

16 February 1965


Words from Ian McKellen

"Franco Zeffirelli was there too. He was casting his very Italian MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING and surprisingly hadn't yet found, among the young bloods in the company, anyone suitable to play the juvenile lead. Shallow was a daft audition piece - and yet that's how I came to play Claudio for the second time. I wore even more make-up than at Coventry but at least, this time, it was expertly applied - by the director himself, as he faced me sitting on my lap! Throughout rehearsals, he had given me only one note of any substance: 'It's to simple, Jan; you enter in and make all the audience fall right in love with you, caro'. A fat chance of that, I thought, with Albert Finney, Derek Jacobi and Bob Stephens in all my scenes, let alone Michael York as a very glamorous coffee-waiter. Shakespeare's young lovers must first and foremost be hugely attractive - Franco was right - although his doll-like make-up did nothing for my face or my confidence. I went right off Shakespeare and soon left the National to do a string of modern and new plays elsewhere. I even made a few films." — From the programme for ACTING SHAKESPEARE

Comments and Reviews

McKellen's first appearance with the National Theatre; Bristol Hippodrome - 22 March 1965: Theatre Royal, Nottingham - 29 March 1965


Banner photo: Albert Finney, Robert Stephens, Ian McKellen


Full Cast List