Educating Rita

The Library Theatre Company present
Thu 26 Sep 2013 - Sat 12 Oct 2013, The Lowry, Quays Theatre
By Willy Russell

“That’s why they come to the hairdressers – because they want to be changed. But if you wanna change y’ have to do it from the inside, don’t y?”

Educating Rita, Willy Russell’s intimate comedy with big ideas and an even bigger heart, is a gem of British theatre. Inspired by Russell’s own experiences of returning to education, this multi-award winning comedy returns to Manchester for the first time in over twenty years, directed by Chris Honer.

Brash, straight-talking hairdresser Rita is determined to change her life. She wants to know ‘everything’ and she thinks the Open University might just be the answer. World-weary, alcohol-fuelled lecturer Frank is a failed poet, a self-acknowledged ‘appalling teacher of appalling students’. In fact, he’s just about given up. In need of extra cash, he agrees to tutor Rita, totally unaware of the whirlwind that’s about to enter his world…

The unlikely pair form a life-changing bond as Rita starts to find herself, and Frank finds a whole new lease of life. Touching, life-affirming and very, very funny, Educating Rita is a comic masterpiece from one of our best-loved writers.

We are delighted to have two well-known British TV and stage actors in the roles of Rita and Frank. Gillian Kearney is best known for playing Jessica Harrison in Casualty and her leading roles in Shameless and Brookside. The pick of many stage credits might be her performance as the titular character in Hedda Gabler (2006) at Liverpool Playhouse. Philip Bretherton played George in Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf? (2007) at the Royal Exchange Theatre and will be familiar as Alistair Deacon to fans of the long running BBC sitcom As Time Goes By.

Still not sure if Educating Rita is for you? Listen to what people have thought of the show so far and take a peek behind the scenes…

The production contains strong language and smoking.

Ticket Details


BOX OFFICE: 0843 208 6010

  • Tickets: £20-£12
  • Preview and Mondays: £12
  • Concessions available Tue-Thu & Sat mats
  • Groups of 10+: Tue-Thu and Sat matinees 10 concessionary price, 11th ticket free. Fri and Sat evenings 10 full price, 11th ticket free.
  • Schools: £11 + 1 free teacher for every 10 purchased
  • On-the-day (students & under 21’s): £10 (limited availability)

Sat 5 October 1.30pm

With Chris Honer (Free to ticket holders but must be booked in advance).

Running time: Approx 2 hrs 20mins inc interval


The Lowry, Quays Theatre

Pier 8
Salford Quays

Greater Manchester
M50 3AZ

The Lowry is our chosen venue for our main season plays whilst we are on the move. We are performing in the intimate setting of the Quays Theatre.
The Lowry is 10 minutes drive from Manchester City Centre, 20 minutes drive from Manchester Airport, and a quarter of a mile from the motorway network, giving access from all over the North West and beyond. It also has excellent public transport links and is situated in the centre of a vibrant shopping, eating and leisure destination.

Find out more about the getting to The Lowry here


  • Frank: Philip Bretherton
  • Rita: Gillian Kearney

Creative Team

  • Director: Chris Honer
  • Designer: Judith Croft
  • Lighting Designer: Nick Richings
  • Assistant Director: Roe Lane
  • Production Manager: Peter Herbert
  • Wardrobe Supervisor: Fiona Bunting
  • Company Stage Manager: Jamie Byron
  • DSM: Jen Davey
  • ASM: Clare Heath
  • Stage Supervisor: David Doyle
  • Sound Designer: Paul Gregory
  • Production Administrator: Avril Mason
  • Lighting Supervisor: Danny Stewart
  • 464.fe3f0909.jpg.cropped
    Talk of the town Fri 4 Oct 2013

    Want to know what everyone’s been saying about our production of Educating Rita? Take a look…

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    Rita reviewed Wed 2 Oct 2013

    Digital Reporter Miranda Wade joined us for our opening weekend of Educating Rita. So what did she think of it…

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    Five Great Reasons to See Educating Rita Mon 23 Sep 2013

    Willy Russell’s Educating Rita is one of the key plays of its time. Here’s five reasons why it’s as relevant today as it was in 1980, when it was first performed.

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  • 455.303bae85
    The changing clothes of Rita Fri 20 Sep 2013

    Costume Supervisor Fiona Bunting talks to us about how costume changes throughout Educating Rita reflect our leading lady’s developing personality…

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  • 454.a8a33f92
    It’s all in the detail Mon 16 Sep 2013

    We take another peek into rehearsals with director Chris Honer to see how things are taking shape for Educating Rita…

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  • 452.d9554874.jpg.cropped
    There is no friend as loyal as a book Mon 9 Sep 2013

    “There is no friend as loyal as a book” said the great Ernest Hemingway. To get us in the mood for Educating Rita we want to hear about the books that inspire you…

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    Beginnings Fri 30 Aug 2013

    The first week of rehearsals is always exciting – director Chris Honer shares his thoughts as he starts work on Educating Rita…

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  • 443.2a2ef490.jpg.cropped
    Cast Announced for Educating Rita Wed 31 Jul 2013

    Two of the UK’s best-known TV faces, Gillian Kearney and Philip Bretherton, will be starring in our production of Educating Rita this autumn.

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Gillian Kearney and Philip Bretherton are both exceptional in their roles and, as the only cast members, work incredibly hard to maintain the audience’s interest. Highly entertaining. ****
Manchester Evening News

Willy Russell’s twist on Pygmalion still works as well as it ever did on stage, as this worthwhile and entertaining production shows… Lively and witty throughout.
The British Theatre Guide

Gillian Kearney brings an earthiness to the role and she nails the ‘knowing’ wit and poignancy which ground her… Philip Bretherton has the unshowy role but he delivers – particularly when conveying his anger and frustration… As relevant as it ever was.
What’s On Stage

The chemistry between Philip Bretherton and Gillian Kearney is so natural it makes for a thoroughly enjoyable night at the theatre. Make sure you don’t miss this top class production of a classic comedy. ****
Sale and Altrincham Messenger

It’s an almost perfect two-hander… Gillian Kearney is the perfect Rita; as Frank, Philip Bretherton has all the words and strong comic timing… A delight.
Oldham Chronicle

Theatre at its best; thoughtfully produced and skilfully performed with a thumping, great script. It informs the audience under the cloak of its entertainment… A superb interpretation.
Cheshire Today

Philip Bretherton and Gillian Kearney both perform flawlessly and seem to bounce off each other throughout the performance… Chris Honer does a stunning job of keeping the audience mesmerised.
The Good Review

A play that has as much resonance today as it did over thirty years ago, especially when brought to life in such a great fashion by the whole team assembled by Library Theatre. The production never loses its pace. *****
The Public Reviews

Here we have two actors who had clearly worked very hard to get through rehearsals, and it really, really showed. I take my hat off to them… A real triumph, I had a great evening.
Northern Soul

I was left wanting more… Director Chris Honer has put on yet another winning production.
Manchester’s Finest

Intimate and utterly charismatic… The performers’ chemistry gave off a real palpable energy. An absolute must.
Salford Online

Philip Bretherton and Gillian Kearney are just about perfect. A vintage piece for the Library Theatre’s farewell year.
Manchester Theatre Awards

Enjoyable… Very entertaining and thought-provoking.
Plays To See

Willy Russell’s moving and beautifully constructed play has been cleverly and superbly revived… Gillian Kearney proves quite outstanding as the eponymous Rita and Philip Bretherton’s superb Frank proves the perfect accompaniment. A production brimming with pace, intelligence and vision.
The Arts Shelf

Gillian Kearney is superb at drawing all the laughs out of the script but also portraying Rita’s journey from apparent scatter-brain to self-confident student; Philip Bretherton is particularly good at conveying Frank’s frustrations both with himself and with the barriers that get in the way of Rita fulfilling her potential.
Weekend Notes

I’ve never seen a poor play directed by Chris Honer, and this is no exception. He ensures that the actors portray not only the comedy, but also the tragedy in Willy Russell’s play.
Remote Goat

Gillian Kearney and Philip Bretherton do a fantastic job in bringing Rita and Frank to life… A deserved packed house. All round fabulousness in spades.
Alison’s Adventures in Theatreland

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