The Menier Chocolate Factory’s revivals of Willy Russell’s Educating Rita and Shirley Valentine will become the latest shows to transfer from the intimate London Bridge venue into the West End when they open at Trafalgar Studio 1 on 8 July (press night 26 July).
Meera Syal reprises her performance as Shirley in Russell’s one-woman play about a dissatisfied Liverpudilan housewife, while Laura Dos Santos is joined in Educating Rita by Tim Pigott-Smith, replacing Larry Lamb as Open University lecturer Frank, who learns a thing or two from brash young hairdresser Rita (Dos Santos).
Pigott-Smith comes to Educating Rita fresh from appearing in Enron, which he left earlier this month. The actor received a 2010 Laurence Olivier Award nomination for his performance as Ken Lay in Lucy Prebble’s hit play at the Royal Court and Noël Coward theatre. His extensive stage credits also include Pygmalion at the Old Vic, Hecuba at the Donmar Warehouse and many productions at the National Theatre.
Educating Rita and Shirley Valentine were both big hits for playwright Russell during the 1980s, and both received successful film adaptations. Director Jeremy Sams’s new productions played at the Menier Chocolate Factory from 26 March to 8 May this year.
This is the second West End transfer of the year for the Chocolate Factory, whose revival of musical Sweet Charity opened at the Theatre Royal Haymarket last month following a Christmas season south of the river.
Previous transfers from the venue include La Cage Aux Folles, Sunday In The Park With George and A Little Night Music, all of which subsequently transferred to Broadway.
Educating Rita and Shirley Valentine will play in repertoire at Trafalgar Studio 1 following Holding The Man, which plays there until 3 July.
Meanwhile the Menier Chocolate Factory presents brand new musical Paradise Found from tomorrow.