Willy Russell’s Educating Rita coming to Northampton's Royal and Derngate this summer

Classic comedy-drama stars Stephen Tompkinson and Jessica Johnson

Friday, 23rd April 2021, 4:39 pm
Updated Friday, 23rd April 2021, 4:40 pm
Stephen Tomkinson and Jessica Johnson star in Educating Rita, coming to the Royal and Derngate in July
Stephen Tomkinson and Jessica Johnson star in Educating Rita, coming to the Royal and Derngate in July

Willy Russell’s Educating Rita starring Stephen Tompkinson and Jessica Johnson will be coming to Northampton's Royal and Derngate this summer.

Produced by Olivier and Tony Award-winning producer David Pugh and directed by Max Roberts, the stage production will be in town from July 26-31.

Pugh said: “Rita is the most extraordinary character - she wanted to change and learn so much and that’s everything we’re all going through at the moment, to adapt to the world as it is now.

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Stephen Tompkinson

"What we know is that Educating Rita gives you a great night out at the theatre and that’s the best any of us can hope for.”

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.

Jessica Johnson

The two soon realise how much they have to learn from each other.

The comedy-drama 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.

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 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, Art and Tartuffe.

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 at the Gala Theatre in Durham.

Her television credits include Wire In The Blood and Coronation Street on ITV and Cuckoo on Channel 4.

Educating Rita's tour starts at the MAST Mayflower Studios in Southampton before going to Northampton, the Rose Theatre in Kingston-upon-Thames, the Everyman in Cheltenham, York's Theatre Royal, The Horsham Capitol and Newcastle's Theatre Royal.