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Educating Rita

by Willy Russell

Directed by Colleen McClure

at VSA North Fourth Art Center

Ages: All Ages     Price: $18 - $25
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EDUCATING RITA, by Willy Russell

It is the 1980s, Liverpool, England. Frank is a tutor of English in his fifties whose disillusioned outlook on life drives him to drink and to bury himself in his books. Enter Rita, a forthright 26 year-old hairdresser who is eager to learn and to change her social circumstances through the pursuit of higher education. Willy Russell delightfully weaves together the lives of these two unique characters, with great wit, humor and profound insight. Commissioned by the Royal Shakespeare CompanyEducating Rita premièred at The Warehouse, London, in June 1980 starring Julie Walters and Mark Kingston. The play was directed by Mike Ockrent, and in 1983 became a hit film with Michael Caine and Julie Walters.

JESSICA OSBOURNE, a Company and Founding member of West End Productions, who most recently was on stage in She Stoops To Conquer, treads the boards again as Rita. Born in England, Jessica trained at Italia Conti Academy of Performing Arts, London. Last year she gave an awesome solo performance in the title role of Shirley Valentine at the Aux Dog Theatre, also directed by Colleen Neary McClure.

Playing Rita’s English tutor is FREDERICK PONZLOV, who arrived in Albuquerque last year. Actor/Director Ponzlov, whose stagework has been seen since the 1970s, was also co-founder and Artistic Director of the Long Beach Repertory Theatre in California. He has already become a part of our Albuquerque theatre community by acting at The Vortex, and is currently directing The Shadow Box at The Adobe.

COLLEEN NEARY McCLURE, Artistic Director and Founder of West End Productions, is excited and honored to be directing Educating Rita. Colleen earned dual Bachelor of Arts degrees in both Drama and Music, with honors, from London University. She has over thirty years of experience in professional theatre, film and theatre education. Colleen is a member of British Actors Equity and Screen Actors Guild. She has directed and produced numerous productions and films in England and the United States, and has also performed extensively in London’s West End, the United Kingdom and stages across America.

Talkin' Broadway! An outstanding review by Stephanie Hainsfurther.

"Ponzlov is so much his character that we can't tell how he manages it... a willingness for his love of students to be rekindled by Rita's ability to make "connections" between life and literature. It's what a teacher lives for... Ponzlov makes us see it, too, with a deft hand, a nuanced performance and a very good English accent.

It's no secret that Jessica Osbourne is one of the top actresses in town... Whether she's making a joke, yelling at Frank, cursing, smoking, telling a story or simply soldiering on, Osbourne gleams...against the Liverpudlian gloom... This actor can hold and embody two concepts at once... Osbourne's Rita is smart and sane and high functioning. Funny as hell, too.

Osbourne and Ponzlov make us believe that Rita and Frank are meeting for the first time. They surprise each other on stage, perhaps the hardest thing for an actor to do and the truest test of his and her worth. Judging by the number of local actors and directors in attendance at Sunday's matinee, I'm not the only one who thinks that these two are more than worth the (very reasonable) price of admission, and more."

http://www.talkinbroadway.com/page/regional/alb/alb419.html

"Warmly written...It is the interchange of feeling and realization of new approaches to life on both sides that make this play of particular interest." - London Telegraph

"A marvelous play, painfully funny and passionately serious; a hilarious social documentary; a fairy tale with a quizzical, half happy ending." - London Times

West End Productions Phone: (505) 410-8524