Here’s something I’d like to bet any fan of Lord Of The Rings or the X-Men movie franchise never thought they’d see. Yes, that is SIR IAN MCKELLAN posing in what can only be described as his Panto Sunday best. Sir Ian has been starring alongside comedian JOHN BISHOP, who was scheduled to be in Cardiff this week. John has taken compassionate leave from the show this week following the death of his Mother.

The WMC issued this statement….

We regret to announce that John Bishop is unable to appear in this week’s run of Mother Goose. Mr Bishop has taken compassionate leave from the show. Gabriel Fleary, the Holby City and RSC actor and Mr Bishop’s standby will play the role of Vic Goose alongside Ian McKellen as Mother Goose.

In a touching online tribute, John said recently – Kathy, who passed away at 80, was the ‘sunshine’ of the family and that her death was a ‘pain like no other‘.

‘Mum came to see me in Mother Goose in Liverpool and joined in the sing a long at the end as I knew she would. This morning we said goodbye to her and we will never hear her sing again.

As a family we are heartbroken. She was a mother, a grandmother and a great grandmother and she loved us all. Next week she would have been married to my dad for 62 years and they had a love and a friendship that was beautiful to be around.

Anyone who has lost a parent will understand when I say it is a pain like no other. I will never have another mother but I will be eternally grateful for being lucky enough to have had the one I did. Goodnight Mum, your were our sunshine.’

We send our thoughts and condolences to John and his family at this difficult time.

John Bishop and Kathy

The show does go on and we can expect a full-on, live entertainment spectacle not to be missed – filled with fun, musical comedy, star power and surprises that will make you honk out loud.

This cheeky fairytale is exactly what we need right now, a bit of knockabout fun, with a first rate cast, is the perfect start to our Easter preparations.

Mother Goose (Ian McKellen) and her husband Vic run an Animal Sanctuary for waifs and strays and live a wholesome life inside an abandoned Debenhams. But when a goose (Anna-Jane Casey) flies in, will fame and fortune get the better of them?! Will Ma’s feathers be seriously ruffled? Will Pa tell everyone to get stuffed?! And is their fair life about to turn fowl?


This is not any pantomime either. The star names will be making their way to the Wales Millennium Centre, and with only half a dozen eggs-traordinary performances lined up, I think we can guarantee this will be a sell-out, so there’s sure to be a scramble for tickets.

Okay, all pantomime and egg gags to one side lets tell you why we’re having a usually traditional festive show in March. The answer is simple – because they can, and it’s Sir Ian McKellan and we’d all go and see him in anything at anytime of the year.

The show will also star Oscar Conlon-Morrey as Jack, Simbi Akande as Jill, Sharon Ballard as Good Fairy Encanta and Karen Mavundukure as Evil Fairy Malignia. The cast also includes Adam Brown, Gabriel Fleary, Richard Leeming, Becca Francis, Shailan Gohil, Laura Tyrer, Billy Cullum and Genevieve Nicole.

We are told to get ready for fairies with hefty vocal chords, puppets with tap dance qualifications and impeccably constructed mayhem that will quack up the whole family. This hilarious family-friendly mother of all pantos is the ultimate theatrical feast full of fun, farce and more than a couple of surprises that will make you honk out loud. 

This very special pantomime is written by Jonathan Harvey (Coronation Street, Gimme Gimme Gimme) and directed by award-winning director Cal McCrystal. Set and Costume design is by Liz Ascroft, Choreography by Lizzi Gee, Lighting design by Prema Mehta, Sound design by Ben Harrison and Puppet Design and Creation by Chris Barlow. Casting is by Anne Vosser and the Production Manager is Ben Arkell.

This won’t be the first time Ian has dipped in the world of panto. Around 15 years ago Ian was Widow Twankey in two productions of Aladdin. In 2004/05 he starred in the Old Vic’s production of the show, and a mighty fine Twankey he made.

Ian McKellan backstage at the Old Vic (Photo: Keith Stern)

MOTHER GOOSE is at the Wales Millennium Centre from this evening, Tuesday 28th March to Saturday 1st April. Tickets, which start at £18 are available HERE

Mother Goose is produced by Ambassador Theatre Group Productions, Gavin Kalin Productions, Hunter Arnold, Seaview, Wessex Grove, Richard Winkler & Dawn Smalberg, Caiola Productions and George Waud for Groove International.