TICKETS for Sir Ian McKellen's eagerly awaited performance at Theatre by the Lake on August 20 will be available via a public ballot, open between Monday, January 28 and February 11, with successful entrants being contacted shortly after the date.

Tickets are priced at £55, with bar stools at £45, and are limited to two per person.

The ballot can be entered online from the Keswick theatre's website from January 28 or via a form which can be picked up from the box office or downloaded from the website (again, available from January 28).

The noble knight of theatre will be working his magic with the new solo show to celebrate his 80th birthday year. It will be a mixture of anecdote and acting, including Tolkien, Shakespeare, others - and involving the audience.

"I’m celebrating my 80th birthday by touring a new solo show to theatres I know well and a few that I don’t. The show starts with Gandalf and will probably end with an invitation to act with me on stage. In-between there will be anecdotes and acting.

"Live theatre has always been thrilling to me, as an actor and in the audience. Growing up in Lancashire, I was grateful to those companies who toured beyond London and I’ve always enjoyed repaying that debt by touring up and down the country myself, with the RSC, the National Theatre, Prospect Theatre, the Actors’ Company, as well as with commercial productions.

"As a theatre-mad lad in Lancashire I used to see the touring Century Theatre, which ended up by the lake in Keswick. So my debut here is in gratitude for those long-ago productions and for the other times when I have seen the company at work in Keswick. The Lake District is my favourite part of the country, which is another reason I wanted to bring you my new show."

Tickets is demand is anticipated to be high.

All profits from Ian's special performance will raise funds to benefit the Keswick theatre's work supporting local communities, through initiatives such as their schools programme, Young and Elders Companies, and Setting the Scene workshops for people living with dementia and their carers.

The show is presented by Ambassador Theatre Group.