Much to the dismay of her husband Denny, Rita, a young, brash hairdresser, has recently discovered a passion for English literature and enrols with the Open University. 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.
Commissioned by the RSC, Willy Russell's Educating Rita was first performed at The Warehouse, London, in June 1980 and later transferred to the Piccadilly Theatre. The production starred Julie Walters and Mark Kingston and won the Society of West End Theatres award for Best Comedy. Julie Walters went on to play Rita in the BAFTA award winning film version with Michael Caine as Frank. Both received BAFTA and Golden Globe Awards and Oscar nominations for their performances.