Sir Ian McKellen at Abbey Theatre, St Albans

PUBLISHED: 16:48 28 September 2009 | UPDATED: 14:27 06 May 2010

Sir Ian McKellen with the cast of The Odd Couple at the Abbey Theatre

Sir Ian McKellen with the cast of The Odd Couple at the Abbey Theatre

THEATRE and film legend Sir Ian McKellen dropped into the Abbey Theatre in St Albans on Saturday night to watch a performance of The Odd Couple. As Patron of the Little Theatre Guild of Great Britain, he had responded to an invitation from Company of Ten

THEATRE and film legend Sir Ian McKellen dropped into the Abbey Theatre in St Albans on Saturday night to watch a performance of The Odd Couple.

As Patron of the Little Theatre Guild of Great Britain, he had responded to an invitation from Company of Ten chairman Paul Davidson to come and see a production during the drama company's 75th season.

And he described the Abbey Theatre at Westminster Lodge as one of the best-equipped Little Theatres in the country and was amazed at the extent and quality of the facilities enjoyed by its members and audiences.

Sir Ian stayed until late and in his own words, had, "a wonderful evening". He admitted to being astonished to learn that the twin auditorium complex, which entertains over 20,000 theatregoers each year, is staffed and maintained almost entirely by volunteers.

The cast of The Odd Couple - Neil Simon's female version of his award-winning play - were unaware that the star of King Lear and Waiting for Godot was in the stalls watching their performance.

They first knew about it was when he came backstage afterwards and was extremely complimentary about what he had seen.

He also praised the theatre as a whole and the skill and commitment of everyone involved in its operation.

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