FOLLOWING its success at the Minack Open Air Theatre, Cornwall, in August, Olivier and Tony Award-winning producer David Pugh is bringing Willy Russell’s critically acclaimed comedy Educating Rita to Southampton in the spring.

Appearing at Mayflower Theatre from February 9 to 13, Educating Rita tells the story of married hairdresser Rita, who enrols on an Open University course to expand her horizons, and her encounters with university tutor Frank.

Frank is a frustrated poet, brilliant academic and dedicated drinker, who is less than enthusiastic about teaching Rita. However, Frank soon finds that his passion for literature is reignited by Rita, whose technical ability for the subject is limited by her lack of education, but whose enthusiasm Frank finds refreshing. The two soon realise how much they have to learn from each other.

David Pugh said: “Educating Rita was a phenomenal success 40 years ago and who would have known what a phenomena it would become in these socially distanced times. Audiences and critics raved when we played the Minack Theatre this summer and I can’t tell you how chuffed I am to be bringing it to Mayflower Theatre Southampton.”

Educating Rita was originally commissioned by the Royal Shakespeare Company and played at the Warehouse Theatre, London in 1980, starring Julie Walters and Mark Kingston. Julie Walters reprised her role in the BAFTA, Golden Globe and Academy Award-winning film opposite Michael Caine.

Willy Russell’s other writing credits include the Olivier Award-winning musical Blood Brothers, and the hugely successful play Shirley Valentine, which won the Olivier Awards for Best New Comedy and Best New Actress.

Stephen Tompkinson’s television credits include ITV’s Torvill & Dean, BBC’s The Split, five series of DCI Banks, four series of Trollied, seven series of Wild at Heart and six series of Drop the Dead Donkey.

Tickets go on sale on Thursday from or 023 8071 1811.