Educating Rita - Preview

April 18, 2019 - August 17, 2019 | Various venues across UK

Picture: Robert Day

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.


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                                 

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