Claire Sweeney & Matthew Kelly to star in EDUCATING RITA at Menier Chocolate Factory before UK Tour


Educating Rita, the Olivier Award winning comedy by Willy Russell, which was revived in 2010, will play at the Menier Chocolate Factory for three weeks from the 25 April – 12th May before a UK national tour.  Claire Sweeney takes on the role of Rita and Matthew Kelly plays Dr Frank Bryant. This production is directed by Tamara Harvey, designed by Tim Shortall, with lighting design by Paul Anderson.

Educating Rita is the Pygmalion like account of a young, brash Liverpudlian hairdresser trying to enrich her life by going on an English Lit Open University course. 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.

Matthew Kelly has worked in major regional theatres across the country, the West End and on television. He has received wide recognition for his work, winning a Royal Television Society award for Best Performer in Drama, and an Olivier Award for Best Actor for his role as ‘Lennie’ in Birmingham Rep’s production of Of Mice And Men

His current and recent work includes playing ‘Professor Callaghan’ in the U.K tour of Legally Blond, ‘Dodge’ in Sam Shepherd’s Buried Child (Curve Leicester), ‘Pozzo’ in Waiting For Godot with Ian McKellen and Roger Rees  ( Theatre Royal Haymarket), ‘King Arthur’ in Spamalot (UK Tour), West End seasons of Tim Firth’s Sign Of The Times (Duchess), Lend Me A Tenor - The Musical ( Gielgud), ‘Eddie Waters’ in Comedians (Lyric Hammersmith), ‘George’ in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf  (Trafalgar Studios), ‘Pandarus’ in Troilus and Cressida  (Shakespeare’s Globe), Howard Barker’s Victory at (Arcola Theatre) and ‘Salieri’ in Amadeus for John Doyle (Wilton’s Music Hall).

Native Liverpudlian, Claire Sweeney’s West End roles include ‘Roxy’ in Chicago (Adelphi) and ‘Adelaide’ opposite Patrick Swayze in the award winning production of Guys and Dolls.  Most recently Claire played the role of ‘Paulette’ in a UK Tour of the award winning Legally Blonde and in 2011, she starred in a new production of Andrew Lloyd Webber and Don Black’s one-woman show Tell Me On A Sunday.  She has headlined in Fosse - The World Tour and has also performed duets with International Opera stars Bryn Terfel and Jose Carreras at The Royal Albert Hall. 

Claire’s television work has included playing the regular character of ‘Lindsey Corkhill’ in Brookside, the fiery character Katrina’ in the award winning drama Clocking Off, ‘Roz’ in BBC1’s hit drama Merseybeat and most recently the character of Amanda’ in BBC1’s  comedy drama Candy Cabs.

Willy Russell is one of the most successful playwrights of his generation. His plays have been performed in countries across the globe and have won countless appreciation and creative awards as well as academic honours. As well as Educating Rita and Shirley Valentine, both of which were made into major award-winning feature films, playwright, lyricist and composer Willy Russell is the author of the long running West End hit Blood Brothers, John, Paul, George, Ringo and Bert, Stags and Hens, One for the Road and Breezeblock Park.  His writing for television includes Our Day Out and One Summer.


Dates: 25th April – 12th May
Performances: Tues – Sat 8pm; Sat & Sun 3:30pm:  Thursday 3rd & 10th May at 3.30pm;
Tickets: £29.50
Meal Deals: £37.00: Concessions: £27.00
A meal deal ticket includes a 2-course meal from the pre-theatre menu in the Menier Café as well as the theatre ticket.

Box Office: 020 7378 1713; £2 transaction fee per booking
Website: (£1 transaction fee per bkg)
Address: 53 Southwark Street, London SE1 1RU