Octagon Theatre Bolton and Derby Theatre have announced an award-winning cast for one of Willy Russell’s most beloved plays, Educating Rita. An uplifting story of self-discovery through which we witness how the power of choice comes through education, Educating Rita will play at the Octagon from Thu 19 January – Sat 11 February. As a co-production, Educating Rita will then play in Derby.

Frank has almost given up completely. Given up on his ambition to be a poet and, disillusioned with teaching undergraduate English students, he reflects melancholically on his life. That is, until Rita walks in. A 26 year old married hairdresser, Rita has decided to take control of her life and earn herself an education. With Rita’s tenacious honesty and Frank’s deep intellect, they inspire each other to wake up to life in their own way. A cast of two talented actors will bring this inspirational and humorous story to life.

After recently playing Badger in The Wind in the Willows at Theatre Royal Plymouth and in the National 2016 Tour, David Birrell returns to the Octagon as Frank, a middle-aged English Literature university lecturer who likes a drink. David is an award-winning actor, who won a Manchester Theatre Award for his role of Peter Stockmann in An Enemy of the People and a Manchester Theatre Award for his role of Osborne in Journey’s End, both at the Octagon Theatre. David’s other credits include The War Has Not Yet Started at the Drum Theatre (2016) and The Death of King Arthur at Sam Wanamaker Theatre (2015).

Also returning to the Octagon is the award-winning Jessica Baglow, this time as the fiery Rita. Jessica has recently received an Ian Charleson Award commendation for her performance as Marina in Pericles at the Globe Theatre (2015) and was awarded a Manchester Theatre Award for her role as Poppy in the ensemble of Noises Off (Octagon Theatre Bolton, 2015). Jessica has also recently performed in The Winter’s Tale at the Globe Theatre (2015) and in The Family Way here at the Octagon (2015).

On the production, Elizabeth Newman commented: “Educating Rita is an important story that needs to be told now. Willy Russell’s uplifting masterpiece champions the idea that, as people, we can find freedom through education and therefore gain choice in your life. It feels vital in 2017 that we share these ideas and celebrate curiosity with our audiences. This is a play that I feel very passionately about and it’s a huge privilege to be able to bring it to life here in Bolton and in Derby. We are very excited to be working with Derby Theatre again. We are also thrilled to welcome David and Jessica back to the Octagon stage.”

Educating Rita plays at the Octagon Theatre from Thu 19 January – Sat 11 February 2017 and is sponsored by Manchester Airport.

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