May 2017 - Let Us Entertain You: Educating Rita
It’s 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. In Educating Rita, Willy Russell delightfully weaves together the lives of these two, unique characters, with great wit, humor, and profound insight. New Mexicans will have the opportunity to experience this amazing play from May 5 to May 21 at the VSA North 4th Art Center by West End Productions.
Jessica Osbourne, a Company and Founding member of West End Productions, treads the boards again as Rita. Osbourne shared her love of this play and why Rita spoke to her. “Oh, I have loved the play since the first time I read it. Liverpool has so many similarities to where I come from, so I relate a lot to the world and to Rita and where she’s come from. What I mean by that is, the type of environment she grew up in, I saw and experienced the mentality a lot. Like Rita, I wanted to understand and learn a different world of experiences. And when I was 16, I did that and moved to London for drama school. It was different but enriching. Not that there was anything wrong with life in Cleethorpes, I just knew I couldn’t be or do or learn what I wanted there, so I broke away, much like Rita does, from what she knows. And like Rita, I learned that things aren’t always what they seem from the other side of the fence. Having worked with Colleen [McClure] on Shirley Valentine, I was excited to get to work with her again, especially on a play that was so close to my heart.”
Born in England, Osbourne trained at Italia Conti Academy of Performing Arts, London. Along with Colleen Neary McClure, Artistic Director and Founder of West End Productions, and director of Educating Rita, they have opened the eyes of theater-goers here in Albuquerque to the beauty of British theater. West End Productions exclusively performs plays, past and present, from the United Kingdom. Osbourne shared how positive the response has been. “We are very encouraged by the response to our productions so far and have been pleased to have gained a small, loyal following already, which we, of course, hope to grow and expand with the rest of the season. What I like about Colleen’s choices for the season this year, is that each play, while highly funny and entertaining, has a depth to it that sneaks up on you. And as an actor, that’s a most exciting challenge.”
Educating Rita opens Friday, May 5, and plays for three weekends through Sunday, May 21. Performances are Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 PM, Sundays at 2:00 PM, and will take place at VSA North 4th Art Center located at 4904 4th St. NW in Albuquerque. For more information and ticket purchases, please visit www.westendproductions.org.