Following the success of the run in August at the Minack Open Air Theatre in Cornwall, Olivier and Tony Award-winning producer David Pugh has announced that the acclaimed 40th anniversary production of Willy Russell’s Educating Rita is coming back from 28 October 2020.
In a bid to help reopen as many theatres as possible with socially distanced, indoor performances, Pugh is excited to bring back this well-loved story and to help get the theatre industry back on track. The production, directed by Max Roberts and starring Stephen Tompkinson as Frank and Jessica Johnson as Rita, was on a UK tour when the Government closed theatres in March. The tour will reopen at the Rose Theatre, Kingston, running from 28 October to 14 November. This will be followed by a week at Shrewsbury Theatre Severn (17-21 November 2020), with more dates to be announced.
David Pugh said:
“Rita herself is a class act. She has always embraced change and so now, with social distancing – if you’ve got a closed theatre, she’ll reopen it – we are delighted we’re reopening the historic Rose Theatre, Kingston.”
Educating Rita has set and costume designs by Patrick Connellan, lighting design by Drummond Orr and sound design by David Flynn. It is produced by David Pugh and is a Theatre by the Lake production.
The play was originally commissioned by the Royal Shakespeare Company and played at the Warehouse Theatre, London in 1980, starring Julie Walters and Mark Kingston. Walters reprised her role in the BAFTA, Golden Globe and Academy Award-winning film opposite Michael Caine.
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 (British Comedy Award Winner for Best TV Comedy Actor) and three series of Ballykissangel, and his films include Phil in Brassed Off. His theatre work includes Spamalot, Rattle of a Simple Man and Arsenic and Old Lace in the West End, Cloaca and A Christmas Carol (Old Vic), Art and Tartuffe (National tours).
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 (ITV), Coronation Street (ITV) and Cuckoo (Channel 4).