40th-anniversary Educating Rita to open at cliffside Cornwall theatre

Chris Wiegand
·2-min read

A 40th anniversary production of Willy Russell’s play Educating Rita will be staged at the open air Minack theatre in south-west Cornwall this summer. The Minack was one of the first venues to resume live performances after the government granted permission for outdoor venues to admit socially distanced audiences last week.

The play will star Stephen Tompkinson as disillusioned teacher Frank and Jessica Johnson as hairdresser Rita, his Open University student, and is directed by Max Roberts. The production had been on a UK tour that was cut short by the coronavirus pandemic in mid-March. Performances at the Minack, near Penzance, will run from 18-29 August. Producer David Pugh said he was excited to present the play, which is set in Frank’s university office, at the cliffside venue, which has the Atlantic Ocean as its backdrop. “I do worry about the rain but when I mentioned this to Willy Russell, he said ‘Don’t worry, I’ll just add a line. Rita can say: There’s a leak in your ceiling, Frank.’”

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Zoe Curnow, the theatre’s executive director, said: “We are delighted to be able to reawaken the Minack from its lockdown sleep and put the soul back into our theatre with live performances. Having sadly had to postpone our previously scheduled 2020 season, we are delighted to be forging new friendships with producers like David and are really excited to welcome Willy Russell and Stephen and Jessica to our beautiful theatre. Our fingers are crossed that the sun shines on us for the remainder of the summer.” The theatre’s summer programme includes a revival of the Minack’s 2019 production of Marie Jones’s two-hander Stones in His Pockets.

Brighton Open Air theatre, the Maltings theatre in St Albans and Regent’s Park Open Air theatre in London are among the other venues that have announced outdoor productions this summer.