A major new stage production of Willy Russell’s Educating Rita is currently touring the UK. Starring Stephen Tompkinson as Frank, and introducing Jessica Johnson as Rita, the play will be directed by Max Roberts.
Educating Rita tells the story of married hairdresser Rita, who enrols on an Open University course to expand her horizons, and her encounters with university tutor Frank. Frank is a frustrated poet, brilliant academic and dedicated drinker, who is less than enthusiastic about teaching Rita. However, Frank soon finds that his passion for literature is reignited by Rita, whose technical ability for the subject is limited by her lack of education, but whose enthusiasm Frank finds refreshing. The two soon realise how much they have to learn from each other.
The play was originally commissioned by the Royal Shakespeare Company and performed at the Warehouse Theatre, London in 1980, starring Julie Walters and Mark Kingston. Julie Walters reprised her role in the BAFTA, Golden Globe and Academy Award-winning film version opposite Michael Caine.
A well-known name on TV, Stephen Tompkinson’s television credits include ITV’s Torvill & Dean, BBC’s The Split, five series of DCI Banks, four series of Trollied, seven series of Wild at Heart, six series of Drop the Dead Donkey and three series of Ballykissangel. His theatre work includes Spamalot, Rattle of a Simple Man and Arsenic and Old Lace in the West End, and A Christmas Carol at the Old Vic.
Jessica Johnson’s theatre credits include Call Me Mary Poppins, Goth Weekend, Kings and Queens, Each Piece and Anti-Gravity at the Live Theatre, Newcastle. She previously played Rita in Rebecca Frecknall’s 2017 production of Educating Rita at the Gala Theatre, Durham. Her television credits include Wire In The Blood and Coronation Street for ITV and Cuckoo for Channel 4.
Max Roberts is Emeritus Artistic Director of Newcastle’s Live Theatre. Under his direction, the Live Theatre has become one of the country’s most successful theatre companies with an outstanding reputation for developing new work. His Olivier Award-nominated production of Lee Hall’s Cooking With Elvis transferred to the West End’s Whitehall Theatre (now Trafalgar Studios) before touring nationally. He also directed The Pitman Painters, which transferred to the National Theatre and won Best Play at the Evening Standard Theatre Awards before opening on Broadway.
TOUR SCHEDULE 2019
18 April – 27 April Theatre by the Lake, Keswick
30 April – 4 May The Lowry, Salford
6 May – 11 May Alhambra Theatre, Bradford
13 May – 18 May Nottingham Theatre Royal
20 May – 1 June Theatr Clwyd, Mold
3 June – 8 June Theatre Royal, Bath
10 June – 15 June Theatre Royal, Norwich
17 June – 22 June Salisbury Playhouse
24 June – 29 June Exeter Northcott Theatre
2 July – 6 July Eden Court Theatre, Inverness
8 July – 13 July Wolverhampton Grand Theatre
15 July – 20 July Theatre Royal Wakefield
22 July – 27 July Sheffield Lyceum Theatre
29 July – 3 August Cambridge Arts
5 August – 10 August Malvern Festival Theatre
12 August – 17 August Darlington Hippodrome