Educating Rita returns to Liverpool stage

Revival of Willy Russell’s classic play will be centrepiece of spring 2015 season at Everyman & Playhouse theatres

A revival of Willy Russell’s classic play Educating Rita is to be staged in Liverpool, its spiritual home, 35 years after it opened at the Donmar Warehouse in London.

The play will be at Liverpool’s Playhouse as the centrepiece of a spring 2015 season announced on Tuesday by the city’s Everyman & Playhouse theatres. The programme will also include Shakespeare, Arthur Miller and the first stage adaptation of Joel and Ethan Coen’s 1994 big-business comedy The Hudsucker Proxy.

The theatres’ artistic director Gemma Bodinetz said: “This season is an extraordinary cocktail of the familiar reinvigorated. Whether that’s a classic play, a celebrated playwright or a much-loved film, we hope each of our in-house productions feels fresh and newly minted.”

Bodinetz will direct the new production of Educating Rita at the Playhouse, the first to be staged professionally in Liverpool for 13 years, and it will star two Liverpool actors, Leanne Best and Con O’Neill.

Russell said he was delighted to be back at the Playhouse, “a theatre with which I’ve had a long and fulfilling association”.

Educating Rita, about a working class hairdresser determined to better herself by studying literature, was adapted into a film starring Julie Walters and Michael Caine.

The Hudsucker Proxy, a 1958-set film that starred Paul Newman, Tim Robbins and Jennifer Jason Leigh, has been adapted for the stage by Simon Dormandy, who will co-direct along with Toby Sedgwick.

The play, details of which were announced earlier this year, will get its world premiere at Southampton’s Nuffield theatre in May before opening at the Playhouse in June.

The Everyman’s spring season will open with a new production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream directed by the theatre’s associate director Nick Bagnall.

It will be followed by another world first – a stage adaptation of Arthur Miller’s The Hook. Miller’s screenplay about militant unionism and corruption in New York docks was never made into a film because the FBI feared it would foment unrest.

That too is a co-production and will get its premiere at Northampton’s Royal & Derngate, directed by its artistic director James Dacre, before it moves to the Everyman.


Mark Brown

The GuardianTramp

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