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Last Updated:  Sunday, 23 March, 2003, 17:10 GMT
Actors hold peace concert
Dame Judi Dench
Dame Judi Dench sang at the concert
Some of the biggest names in British showbusiness have shown their support for the victims of war with a charity concert at London's Theatre Royal on Sunday.

Dame Judi Dench and Sir Ian McKellen were among the performers at the Concert For Peace, which was arranged in just four weeks in response to the war in Iraq and previous conflicts.

The concert was the brainchild of West End actress Janie Dee, who recently starred in Stephen Sondheim's Anyone Can Whistle at the Bridewell Theatre.

"The concert is a huge effort by lots of people," said Dee. "I pushed the ball and it just rolled."

Dee and her friends called on their showbiz contacts to bring together a stellar cast of 150 performers.

Each artist presented a song or piece which is important to them.

In a departure from her usual role, Dame Judi performed a musical number, as Sally Bowles in Cabaret.

Sir Ian McKellen and Frances de la Tour
Sir Ian McKellen is currently appearing in the West End
Mark Rylance, Alison Steadman, Samantha Bond, Lindsay Duncan, Josie Lawrence and the Blood Brothers and Anything Goes companies were also in the cast.

"It's a response to the war in Iraq and to what happened in Afghanistan. For the sake of two men, it seems we are killing innocent people," said Dee, referring to Saddam Hussein and Osama Bin Laden.

"The people who live in Iraq did not choose for this to happen to them."

She said she was overwhelmed by the support she has received from her showbiz colleagues.

"It's bigger than I ever thought it would be. We are doing what we do best to express our concern and profound unhappiness at what is going on in the world.

"This concert is full of life and vitality. It's bringing out the best in human nature."

The concert will raise funds for Red Cross, Oxfam, Care and Amnesty International.

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