Trekkies and ringers, rejoice: “Star Trek’s” Captain Jean-Luc Picard and “The Lord of the Rings” Gandalf have joined forces for not one, but two plays -- performing on the same Broadway stage on alternating nights.
Between performances of the double-bill play featuring Harold Pinter’s “No Man’s Land” and Samuel Beckett’s classic “Waiting for Godot,” Sir Ian McKellen and Sir Patrick Stewart sat down with “Power Players” to discuss how they manage to keep from mixing up their alternating characters.
“If you're a teacher and you're teaching geography from 10:00 to 11:00, but at 11:00 to 12:00, you start to teach math, you don't get them mixed up,” McKellen said. “They're different.”
While their work on stage has earned stellar reviews, it’s the duo’s performance off stage that’s been grabbing the Big Apple’s eye.
McKellen and Stewart have been frolicking around the big city, calling themselves “Gogo” and “Didi,” their characters’ nicknames in “Waiting for Godot,” and sporting the same bowler caps they wear for the show.
“Gogo and Didi arrived in New York about three weeks ago. And they’ve been having the most wonderful time,” Stewart explained, “They love New York, everything about it.”
The pair has been posting photos of “Gogo” and “Didi” taking in New York City culture: enjoying local fare at Coney Island, peering out on the city from the top of the Empire State Building, and even meeting Elmo on “Sesame Street.”
“It’s just been, for them, a time of their lives,” Stewart said.
But McKellen and Stewart are no strangers to the big city. Both have acted in New York plays over the years, and they agree that the city has changed a lot since their first days on Broadway in the 1960s and 1970s, when McKellen compared the city to “the Wild West.”
“In 1967, when I first came here and saw a man urinating on the statue of George M. Cohan in Times Square,” McKellen said. “Do that today and you’d be locked up in Bloomberg’s cellar, wouldn’t you?”
“I worked in ’70, and for a three month, four month season, 41st Street, 42nd Street, Broadway, Times Square was our world. And it is almost unrecognizable now from how it was,” Stewart added.
But the fans in New York are like nowhere else, the actors said.
“The audiences are a constant -- in my experience -- for the last 40 years when I’ve been coming,” McKellen explained.
“They are more enthusiastic about going out and enjoying themselves in front of a live performance than anywhere else in the world.”
For more of the interview with McKellen and Stewart, including how they decide on New York adventures for “Gogo” and “Didi,” check out this episode of “Power Players.”
ABC’s Richard Coolidge, Alexandra Dukakis, Jordyn Phelps, Cindy Smith, Tom Thornton, Gary Westphalen, Akram Abi-Hanna, Ben Adam, Tommy Krakowiak and Jeremy Drowne contributed to this episode.