Sir Ian McKellen says he would “put pantomime above Shakespeare in terms of popularity” and hopes the shows inspire younger generations to enjoy the theatre.
The stage and screen veteran said he still attends eight pantomimes per year and it is an art form “that we do very, very well in this country”.
He is due to star in a touring run of Mother Goose, alongside comedian John Bishop.
The panto follows the story of Mother Goose, played by Sir Ian, and her husband Vic, who live a wholesome life running an animal sanctuary, before discovering a goose that lays golden eggs.
Speaking on BBC’s The One Show about why he chose to star in such productions, he said: “I’ve always been a fan of pantomime.
“I still go to see about eight pantomimes a year, it’s one of the art forms that we do very, very well in this country.
“We do theatre as a whole very well – there’s Shakespeare, of course, but I would put pantomime above Shakespeare in terms of popularity.
“If a kid goes to see a pantomime and everything it can offer, glamorous scenery and costumes and fun and audience participation, they might be hooked for life on theatre as a whole.”
“They might want to go back and see other things in the theatre – that’s my main reason for wanting to do it.”
Mother Goose is written by Coronation Street’s Jonathan Harvey and directed by Cal McCrystal.
It is set to play at the Theatre Royal Brighton from December 3 to 11 before a West End run at the Duke of York’s Theatre between December 15 and January 29.
It was also due to star comedian Mel Giedroyc as the goose, though it was recently announced she was having to pull out due to “personal reasons”.
Published: by Radio NewsHub Source : Radio News Hub