July 2019

03 July 2019

Young actors get masterclass from Sir Ian McKellen after generous donor buys five tickets for Exeter show

Five lucky teenagers were handed the chance to meet acting legend Sir Ian McKellen after a regular theatregoer offered free tickets to his sold-out show at Exeter Northcott Theatre.

The celebrated actor announced he was bringing his 80th birthday tour to raise money to help support emerging artists and the show sold out almost immediately.

Exeter solicitor Endurance Arthur managed to secure tickets for the Exeter date and – inspired by Sir Ian’s mission to help the next generation of performers – decided to buy five extra tickets and give them to young people.

Three members of the Northcott Young Company had their names drawn from a hat and two students from Exeter College’s Performance Academy were hand-picked for their hard work and dedication.

Endurance, a partner at Tozers who also leads her firm’s charity and social responsibility team, said it was a spur of the moment decision as she was booking her family’s seats for the July 1 charity performance.

She said: “At that moment I realised I had the opportunity to make a real difference to young people who might not be able to experience the sort of things my own children can.”

The gesture came as the Northcott launched a ‘pay it forward’ appeal to give away 1,000 free panto tickets to families who would not otherwise be able to go to the theatre.

Sir Ian took to the stage on Monday, July 1 to announce the initiative, which match funds every £1 donated and provides one free ticket for each £7.50 paid forward.

He then personally collected more than £1,100 in bucket donations as the audience left the theatre – enough to pay for almost 150 panto tickets.

Endurance hopes that her “pay it forward” act will inspire others to do something similar by calling call the Box Office on 01392 72 63 63 or visiting www.exeternorthcott.co.uk/christmas-giving.

Sir Ian returned to the Northcott 50 years after his first appearance as Marlowe’s Edward II in 1969.

Esther Kenig, aged 17, May Housego, 14, Natasha Pavey, 17, Bradley Swinbank, 16, and Noah Ricketts, 15, were among the packed house for the three-hour show.

Afterwards, Sir Ian he took time to chat to the young actors and pose for a photo.

Noah Ricketts, 15, said it had been inspirational to see such a big name and amazing to get acting tips.

“I really enjoyed the whole experience – seeing someone like Sir Ian gave a unique perspective and I felt I learned something just by watching him delivering lines,” he added.

“During the show, he talked about the element of luck in his career and how sometimes it is down to being in the right place at the right time as much as talent and experience.

“Afterwards when he told us about the learning from others – taking on techniques and incorporating them into your repertoire

“He also talked about the importance of regional theatre and the Young Company – lots of opportunities are in London and down here it can be hard to get involved at a high level

“We all found it inspirational and were a little bit awestruck – it was incredibly exciting, like meeting someone from fantasy.”

Artistic and Executive Director Daniel Buckroyd thanked Endurance for the kindness and said the group had been given a masterclass in performing.

“The show was a fascinating journey through an amazing career which has seen almost everything – from youth production to amateur dramatics, through repertory theatre, the RSC to panto and Hollywood blockbusters,” he added.

“To hear all that in one evening along with brilliantly performed Shakespearian monologues, songs and poetry is a rare experience and something to be treasured by everyone who was there.

“It was an extremely thoughtful and generous act by Endurance, and one that these young people will never forget.”


02 July 2019

Sir Ian McKellen launches ‘pay it forward’ appeal to give away 1,000 free panto tickets to families with bucket collection

Exeter Northcott Theatre has launched a campaign to help low-income families enjoy Christmas with free pantomime tickets.

The festive give-away aims to hand out 1,000 tickets for the ambitious new production of Beauty and the Beast, which opens on November 30.

Under the initiative, the public are asked to contribute towards a ticket for someone who wouldn’t otherwise be able to go.

Every £1 donated will be match funded, so for every £7.50 raised, one £15 ticket will be given to families.

The offer was launched yesterday (July 1) by stage and screen star Sir Ian McKellen, as part of his nationwide charity tour.

Sir Ian McKellen collecting donations for ‘pay it forward’ at the Northcott

The actor, whose 80th birthday tour is raising money to help support emerging artists, announced the ‘pay it forward’ scheme from the stage at the end of his show.

Sir Ian kick-started the campaign by personally collecting more than £1,100 in donations as the audience left the theatre – enough to pay for almost 150 panto tickets.

Artistic and Executive Director Daniel Buckroyd is to write and direct Beauty and the Beast, the first time the show has been staged at the theatre.

He said: “I love the way that panto can bring families and friends together at Christmas and I am thrilled to be continuing the tradition of great Northcott pantos with Beauty and the Beast.

“However, we all know that the festive period can be hard for struggling families so we want to help as many people as possible to experience some theatrical magic

“I would urge anyone who feels able to afford it to donate a free ticket and we will make sure that generosity is doubled.”

Over the past few years, the Northcott – which is a registered charity – has worked with local organisations to allow families to take their children to the panto.

The latest plan doubles the numbers from the previous two years, when 500 tickets were given away through the housing association Live West and the community network Home Start.

Sir Ian is visiting small and large theatres with which he has personal connections, including amateur groups he knew as a child and notable playhouses he has played in as a professional actor.

He returned to the Northcott 50 years after his first appearance as Marlowe’s Edward II in 1969.

Proceeds from the performance will go to support young and emerging artists in Exeter – a cause which is championed by the Northcott’s Creative Learning and Associate programmes.

Sir Ian, who met a group from the Northcott’s Young Company after the show, said the donations would help some people experience the magic of theatre for the first time.

Salcombe Dairy, which has been now been producing ice cream in Devon for 40 years, returned to become the Northcott’s sole supplier in 2018.

Co-owner Dan Bly said: “We have supported the Northcott over many years but more recently have focussed our support on their charity works.

“We passionately believe in the virtuous circle of investing in the local community such that the local community will invest in you.

“This year we will be supporting the Northcott’s giving of tickets to low income families to enable their children to enjoy the magic of the pantomime, and have a number of further ventures planned into 2020.”

Anyone who wishes to donate a ticket can call the Box Office on 01392 72 63 63 or they can visit exeternorthcott.co.uk/christmas-giving and the theatre will add a second seat.