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Sweeney and Kelly to educate Rita

Published 2 February 2012

Claire Sweeney and Matthew Kelly will star in a revival of Educating Rita this spring, with the production playing a three week run at the Menier Chocolate Factory before embarking on a UK tour.

Willy Russell’s Olivier Award-winning comedy will be staged by up-and-coming director Tamara Harvey whose work includes The Kitchen Sink and Where’s My Seat? at the Bush theatre and Plague Over England in the West End.

The play, which premiered in 1980, received its first major revival at the Menier Chocolate Factory in 2010, staged as a double bill with another of the playwright’s hits, Shirley Valentine. Educating Rita will return to the venue from 25 April to 12 May.

Russell’s comedy is the Pygmalion-like account of a young, brash Liverpudlian hairdresser trying to enrich her life by going on an English Literature Open University course. Her fresh, unschooled reaction to the classics challenges the attitudes of the University and her lecturer Frank, who begins to question his own understanding of his work and himself.

Sweeney, who hails from Liverpool, first found fame on Northern soap opera Brookside. The actress has since forged a successful musical career appearing in Chicago and Guys And Dolls in the West End, and Legally Blonde The Musical and Tell Me On A Sunday on tour. The actress is also well known for her regular appearances on talk show Loose Women and appearances in television series including Candy Cabs and Clocking Off.

Her co-star Kelly was most recently seen on the London stage in Lend Me A Tenor The Musical. An Olivier Award-winning actor, Kelly has also starred in Sign Of The Times at the Duchess theatre, Comedians at the Lyric Hammersmith, Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf at the Trafalgar Studios, and starred opposite Ian McKellen and Roger Rees in Waiting For Godot.

Educating Rita will follow Abigail’s Party, another classic comedy, which will play at the London Bridge venue from 2 March (press night 8 March) 21 April.


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