The Factory Theatre, 7 Eden Street, Newmarket, Auckland

23/08/2012 - 08/09/2012

Production Details

Winner: Comedy of the Year, West End Theatre, London

George Henare and Jodie Hillock star in this classic comedy from the author of Shirley Valentine and Blood Brothers.  

Frank is a tutor of English in his fifties whose disillusioned outlook on life drives him to drink and bury himself in his books.  Enter Rita, a forthright 26 year-old hairdresser who is eager to learn. After weeks of cajoling, Rita slowly wins over the very hesitant Frank with her innate insight and refusal to accept no for an answer.

Their relationship as teacher and student blossoms, ultimately giving Frank a new sense of self and Rita the knowledge she so craves. The play became a hit film with Michael Caine and Julie Walters.

George Henare and Jodie Hillock combine forces to bring this comedy to life for a strictly limited season.

Newmarket Stage Company:
Bringing Live Theatre to the Heart of Newmarket. 

NSC is an initiative between business and the arts to bring high quality professional theatre to Newmarket. Supported by the Newmarket Business Association and the theatre industry the company aims to produce two to three shows a year of well known plays, revivals and classics. The company will compliment the restaurants, bars and movie complex that already exist in Newmarket. The area is well known for its quality eateries and bars and live theatre will only add to the district.

Initially operating out The Factory Theatre, situated in Eden Street, just around the corner from shopping mall Two Double-Seven, the long-term plan is for the company to have a home of its own.

For its premiere production the company is pleased to announce they have gained the professional rights for the much-loved classic comedy ‘Educating Rita’ by Willy Russell, author of ‘Blood Brothers’ and ‘Shirley Valentine’.

George Henare needs no introduction to kiwi audiences, having been a well-known face on stage and screen for many years, including a recent stint on Shortland St. Fresh from her triumph as Sylvia in Silo’s TRIBES at The Maidment, Jodie Hillock is an actress to watch, a young star whose talent is already in demand.

Leading the company is its first Artistic Director Adey Ramsel who is a familiar face around Auckland theatres as a Director, Producer and playwright. Adey directs Educating Rita and is already planning follow up shows that will bring theatre audiences into Newmarket.

Educating Rita plays for a strictly limited season
Factory Theatre, Eden Street, Newmarket 
23 August – 8 September,
7.30pm nightly except Monday;
matinees 4pm Sundays and 2pm Saturdays.

Bookings are open now: or (09) 361 1000

Season WILL NOT extend – 23 Aug thru 8 Sept 2012   

Golden oldie good debut for new company

Review by Janet McAllister 25th Aug 2012

This class-clash Pygmalion dramedy – an oldie but a goodie – makes a great choice for the debut production of the professional Newmarket Stage Company. It’s a relatively gentle, fourth-wall two-hander – wonderfully written, full of jokes and bons mots. 

And they do a very good job. George Henare – who, in his mid-60s, must be the hardest-working man in Auckland showbiz – enjoys a little lightness (with undercurrents of tragedy) between the high drama of Awatea just past and Death of a Salesman to come. He plays the elder academic Frank suitably quietly and deeply, belying the character’s insistence that “there’s less to me than meets the eye”. 

His working-class student Rita (Jodie Hillock) lives up to his claim that she’s “the first breath of air that’s been in this room for years”. Hillock’s Rita caught between two worlds is bright and spunky from the outset. [More


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Believe the hype

Review by Joanna Page 25th Aug 2012

The publicity leading up to Newmarket Stage Company’s first production was impressive; how often does a brand-new company have a story published in a major paper weeks out from opening night?  

It’s a lot of pressure for the cast and crew and I was very curious to see whether Educating Rita would be worthy of the hype.  

As it turns out the combination of a slightly dated but essentially timeless script by Willy Russell (Blood Brothers, Shirley Valentine), a clear vision from Artistic Director /Producer /Director Adey Ramsel, George Henare’s mana, and the vibrant fresh style of Jodie Hillock’s Rita means it’s more than worthy. In fact, there should have been more hype.

Step into the Opera Factory Theatre in Newmarket and you’re immediately transported to Dr. Frank Bryant’s musty office on a Liverpool university campus. It’s lived-in, almost organic and in dire need of a tidy – and I’d love to know where all the books came from. And here you stay for the play’s duration. But time doesn’t stand still.

Russell’s story of a young working-class woman’s quest to find happiness by getting an education she doesn’t think she’s worthy of still resonates. Hillock’s portrayal of Rita is full of energy and life, and provides a stark contrast to Frank’s world-weariness. Despite her accent taking a tiki-tour around the UK initially, once it settled in Liverpool, Hillock is brilliant.

Henare’s Frank is endearing; despite his drink-related flaws and creative insecurities, you can’t help but mourn his loss as Rita grows less dependent on him. Henare’s subtle expressions contrast with Hillock’s dynamic, no-holds-barred Rita. While she commands the audience’s attention more, it’s due in equal parts to her performance, Henare’s expert ability to step back so his co-star can step forward, and the fact that Rita’s character is such a contrast to the environment in which she finds herself. 

Under Ramsel’s direction the duo maintain a brilliant pace. Essentially the work is a series of vignettes. With the single setting the simplest way to separate them is with lighting changes and lightning-quick costumes changes (which must keep wardrobe co-ordinator Erica Byers on her toes). But in the hands of these professionals it is so easy to escape into the piece that you’ll be disappointed when they stop for a 20-minute intermission.

Believe the hype. Educating Rita is well worth the journey and the ticket price.


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