Minneapolis is one of three U.S. cities McKellen will visit in "King Lear," directed by Trevor Nunn for the Royal Shakespeare Company. It will run in repertory with Chekhov's "The Seagull." The tour's other stops are New York and Los Angeles.
"It's a very expensive operation, and we're going to have to sell out and subsidize with fundraising, but it's worth it," artistic director Joe Dowling says. "Lear is a kind of mountain that great actors have to climb, and [McKellen] is doing it with Trevor Nunn, who's probably the best director of Shakespeare in the world today," Dowling says.
"For us to get the opporutnity to have the Royal Shakespeare here with two plays ... is a once in a lifetime and exciting opportunity for us and our audiences," says Dowling.
The schedule also includes a translation by poet Robert Bly of Henrik Ibsen's "Peer Gynt." Dowling says Bly's translation brings a local feel to the classic Norweigan work.
"What Robert Bly brings is both his gift as a poet, and also his understanding and knowledge of the Scandinavian traditions. And being from these parts, as it were, he also understands this community," says Dowling.
Alan Stanford's new adaptation of "Jane Eyre" opens the season in September. Twin Cities actor Stacia Rice stars in the Charlotte Bronte story.
Other highlights include the traditional holiday performances of "A Christmas Carol," and "Third," the last play written by the American playwright Wendy Wasserstein, who died last year.
Joe Dowling will direct Brian Friel's "Dancing at Lughnasa," and bring back his version of Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream."
With 18 productions lined up on all three stages, this season of the Guthrie will be its busiest ever.
"The Guthrie will be a constant hub of creativity, discovery and artistry," Dowling says. "There will be very few dark days at the Guthrie this season."
(The Associated Press contributed to this report)