The Willy Russell Season at The Menier Chocolate Factory

The Menier Chocolate Factory will present the first major London revivals of Willy Russell’s award-winning Educating Rita and Shirley Valentine from 26th March – 8th May 2010.

Jeremy Sams will direct Larry Lamb and Laura Dos Santos in Willy Russell’s Educating Rita.
Much to the dismay of her husband Denny, Rita, a young, brash hairdresser, has recently discovered a passion for English literature and enrols with the Open University. 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.

Educating Rita, originally commissioned by Liverpool Everyman Theatre, transferred to the West End in 1974. In1983 Russell’s semi-autobiographical play was made into a film starring Julie Walters and Michael Caine. Educating Rita was the recipient of the Oliver Award for Best Comedy as well as receiving Academy, Golden Globe and BAFTA Award nominations.

Glen Walford will direct Meera Syal in Willy Russell’s Shirley Valentine.
Meet Shirley: a middle-aged Liverpudlian housewife who talks to the wall whilst preparing her husband’s egg and chips. She’s in a rut. What has happened to her life? When her best friend wins an all-expenses-paid vacation for two to Greece she packs her bags, heads for the sun and starts to see the world and herself rather differently….

Shirley Valentine received its world premiere on stage in Liverpool in 1986 before the production opened in the West End two years later with Pauline Collins playing the title role, directed by Simon Callow. Shirley Valentine was the recipient of the Olivier Award for Best Comedy and as well as being BAFTA nominated the film won the Evening Standard Best Screenplay Award.

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