Durham Educating Rita casting

Published: 8 February 2017

Durham’s Gala Theatre has announced the casting for its next in-house production, Willy Russell’s Educating Rita, which will run from 4 to 8 April.

Playing Rita will be Sunderland-born actress Jessica Johnson. She last appeared at the Gala in The Fighting Bradfords, last autumn’s in-house production. Other roles include Angie in Open Clasp’s hugely successful (two national tours, Edinburgh Fringe and off-Broadway) Key Change, as well as roles in other Open Clasp productions. Other credits include The Rooms (Alphabetti Theatre), Diehard Gateshead (tour) and Frank Sumatra (tour).

Film and TV credits include School for Seduction (Ipso Facto films), Wire in the Blood (Coastal Productions for ITV) and Cuckoo (Rough Cut Television for BBC3).

Patrick Driver (Silent Witness and Call the Midwife) plays Frank.

Rebecca Frecknall directs. While on placement at Northern Stage under the Regional Theatre Young Directors Scheme she directed Julie, Zinnie Harris’s version of Miss Julie. She also worked with and directed Camisado Club as it developed its second production, You, Me and Everything Else.

She was recently (November 2016) awarded a MGCfutures Bursary which will “support the development of a new play that she and NE playwright Lee Mattinson are passionate about—a bold re-imagining of Lorca’s The House of Bernarda Alba.”

Jo Cundall, Gala’s arts programme manager, said, “we are delighted to be bringing this British theatre classic to Gala audiences.

“Michael Caine and Julie Waters turned Willy Russell’s heart-warming story into a seminal BAFTA award-winning film and we hope Jess’s performance as this much loved character will capture the hearts and minds of Gala audiences.”

Peter Lathan