Sir Ian's tribute to beloved sister

By Patrick LowmanSCREEN and stage legend Sir Ian McKellen will swap the bright lights of Hollywood to perform at a small village hall in honour of his late sister.

By Patrick Lowman

SCREEN and stage legend Sir Ian McKellen will swap the bright lights of Hollywood to perform at a small village hall in honour of his late sister.

The Lord of the Rings star has arranged a commemorative concert at the hall in Nayland, near Colchester, in honour of his sister, Jean Jones, who died in November.

Mrs Jones and her husband, Foster, moved to Nayland 17 years ago and she became involved with several community groups before her death.


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Like her famous brother, Mrs Jones, had a passion for the theatre and one of her roles within the Nayland community was as director and actor for the Village Players.

Sir Ian had a close relationship with his sister, who was a deputy principal at St Mary's School in Colchester before her retirement in 1994.

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Due to filming commitments for the third Lord of the Rings film, Sir Ian missed his sister's funeral, but will appear in An Evening to Remember at the village hall in November in her memory.

Sir Ian has become a household name for his role as Gandalf in the Oscar-winning Lord of the Rings trilogy, but he first gained worldwide fame for his Shakespearian roles on both screen and stage.

It was his sister who introduced him to the works of Shakespeare and Sir Ian plans re-enact some of his Shakespearean roles in tribute to his sister during November's event.

Bryan Smith, a long-standing member of the Village Players, who has helped to organised the event, said: “Sir Ian initiated the idea after coming to see one of our productions in March. Really, it will be a private concert in memory of Jean.

“Sir Ian was very close to his sister and he was bitterly disappointed when he couldn't make her funeral and I think this is his way of compensating for that.

“He expressed a view that he wanted all the groups that Jean was involved in to take part in some capacity and it should be a fantastic evening.

“Although Sir Ian is obviously used to bigger venues, he has been here so often before that he knows it well and I don't think it will be a problem for him to adapt.”

Mr Smith said the concert would include a series of acts that would be introduced by the legendary actor.

Pupils from St Mary's School in Colchester will perform scenes from A Midsummer Night's Dream, while the Village Players will re-enact parts of Jane Eyre, a production Mrs Jones was due to direct prior to her death.

“Everybody is looking forward to the evening and it is very good for Nayland that somebody like Sir Ian will be appearing here,” added Mr Smith.

An Evening to Remember will be held on November 6, and all proceeds will go towards the village hall. However, the event will be invite only.

patrick.lowman@eadt.co.uk

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