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Season Mainstage Productions Educating Rita

Educating Rita

Artistic Director's
Open House

December 22, 2012
- 11:30 am
Learn More>>

By Willy Russell

Directed by Rosina Reynolds
Previews: January 9 – 11, 2013
January 12 – February 3, 2013


From the author of SHIRLEY VALENTINE: In this award winning comedy, Frank, an university lecturer, needs to earn some extra money, so he agrees to tutor Rita, a brash, earthy hairdresser with a recently discovered passion for higher education. The result is a delightful Pygmalion-style comedy filled with self-discoveries, temptation, and heartfelt humanity that tackle personal and social issues with insight and grace. Made into a highly successful film starring Michael Caine and Julie Walters, see why the play captivated audiences from London to New York with it's humor, heart, and intelligence.

Willy Russell

Willy RussellWilly Russell (Playwright) is one of the most successful playwrights of his generation. His plays have been performed in countries across the globe and have won countless  awards. He has said that his work is concerned with the essential goodness of humanity, and although his characters are often depicted in bleak circumstances, there is an underlying optimism and warmth in his view of the world. Born in Liverpool in 1947, he began his writing career as a songwriter. At the age of 20, he decided to complete his education and became a schoolteacher. His first play, Keep Your Eyes Down, was produced in 1971, but he made his name with John, Paul, George, Ringo … and Bert, a musical about the Beatles. This had been commissioned by the Liverpool Everyman Theatre, where it ran for a (then) unprecedented eight weeks before transferring to the West End where it won the Evening Standard and London Theatre Critics awards for the best musical of 1974. Russell was commissioned to write a play for the Royal Shakespeare Company. The result, Educating Rita, which was inspired by his own experience of returning to education, has been performed all over the world and was made into a motion picture starring Michael Caine and Julie Walters. Educating Rita won London's SWET Award for Best Comedy, and in 1981, an Academy Award nomination for screenplay adaptation. In 1983 he won the Olivier Award for Best New Musical for Blood Brothers, which also garnered a Tony nomination for Best Book (Musical) in 1993. His play, Shirley Valentine, won the Olivier Award for Best New Comedy and was nominated for a Tony Award for Best Play. His television plays include “Our Day Out,” which he later adapted as a musical. “The Wrong Boy,” Russell's first novel, was published in 2000 to critical acclaim and, as with his all his plays, has been translated into many different languages. In 2003 his first album – “Hoovering The Moon” - was released, and was followed by a successful tour with fellow wordsmith Tim Firth and a full band. Willy Russell continues to live and write in his home city of Liverpool and is currently working on a number of projects.


Ira GershwinMeghan Andrews* (Rita)

Meghan is happy to be returning to NorthCoast Rep for her second show this season!  She was previously seen as Chanteuse in Word's By... Ira Gershwin. Broadway theatre credits include Frost/Nixon (Donmar Warehouse) and The Grapes of Wrath (Steppenwolf Theare Co.) She received a 2006 Lucille Lortel Nomination for her work in The Signature Theatre Company’s off-Broadway production of The Trip to Bountiful. Other theatre credits include the US National Tour of Frost/Nixon, The Trip to Bountiful  (Goodman Theatre), Doubt (GeorgeStreet Playhouse), the US premier of Clocks and Whistles (Origin Theatre Company, NYC ), All’s Well That Ends Well (Blessed Unrest, NYC), Dracula (Fulton Theatre), Honky Tonk Angels (Alabama Shakespeare Festival), numerous productions at Ensemble Studio Theatre, and many others. Television Credits include F/X’s Justified, NBC’s Law & Order, Law & Order: C.I., The Guiding Light, Flesh ‘n Blood (NBC), and others. Film credits include The Adjustment Bureau, The Interloper, and Cost of Living. Meghan is a graduate of the SUNY Purchase Acting Conservatory and is a lifetime member of the Actors’ Studio. She is the daughter of jazz composer and vocalist George and Jo D. Andrews, and is herself a composer of original indie/folk music. To hear more visit



Ira GershwinBjørn Johnson* (Frank)

Frank might say Bjørn Johnson is the performer’s polymath. As an actor Bjørn has starred in a multitude of productions including the critically acclaimed US Premiere of Trio in Los Angeles, Cyrano: The Musical w/ Robert Guillaume on Broadway, and back in the day, was cast in the 1st national tour of Les Misérables which put him on the road a staggering 22 months! Bjørn has also guest starred on such hit TV shows as Dexter, Madmen, ER, Criminal Minds, CHUCK, Sopranos, Nip/Tuck, and Law and Order, among others. His principle film credits range in tone from the psychologically twisted horror/thriller The Hunger, to the cult-comedy favorite Beerfest, for which Bjørn immortalized the role of Herr Schniedelwichsen. He has also appeared in countless memorable national TV commercials for GEICO, Castrol, Nature Made, and Budweiser, just to mention a few. Bjørn has taught at Circle-In-The-Square Conservatory, NYU Tisch School of the Arts, and Juilliard School of Drama and Opera Programs, and ran Michael Kahn’s private studio for 3 years. Opening his own studio in Los Angeles in 2001, Bjørn continues to push himself and his students to tackle the projects that are challenging and scary – the projects that force self-discovery and growth.


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Rosina Reynolds (Director)

North Coast Repertory Theatre: Glorious; Don’t Dress For Dinner; Relatively Speaking; Importance of Being Earnest; Travesties; An American Daughter; The Sum of Us; Blithe Spirit; Corpse; Rough Crossing; Chekov in Yalta. San Diego Repertory Theatre: Bad Dates. Cygnet Theatre: Atwater, Fixin’ to Die. Renaissance Theatre: Caretaker (San Diego Critics Circle Award). Compass Theatre: Three Days of Rain. Fritz Theatre: Vigil. Hahn Cosmopolitan Theatre: Marvin's Room. Diversionary Theatre: Marriage Bed; Happy Endings are Extra; Twilight of the Golds; Beautiful Thing; Wrinkles; Another American; Asking and Telling; Gross Indecency: The Three Trials of Oscar Wilde; Breaking The Code; Lot's Daughters. Founding Artistic Director of Chequamegon Children’s Theatre in Wisconsin, now in our 25th season.

Marty Burnett (Scenic Designer)

Has designed for North Coast Rep for the last 143 shows. Mr. Burnett has designed sets for the Union Plaza, Sahara, and Hacienda Hotels and Casinos in Las Vegas; Harrah’s Lake Tahoe; The Claridge Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City, NJ; The Grand Hotel in Anaheim; and The Drury Lane in Chicago. Mr. Burnett is the resident designer and technical director at North Coast Rep.

Matthew Novotny (Lighting Designer)

Matthew recently designed the lighting for The Underpants, Dames at Sea, Two by Pinter: The Lover and The Dumb Waiter, THIS, Visiting Mister Green, Lend Me A Tenor, Five Course Love, My Name is Asher Lev, King O’ the Moon, Ghosts, Glorious, I Love You Because, Old Wicked Songs, Rabbit Hole, Shipwrecked!, The Dresser, Don’t Dress for Dinner, Mornings at Seven, Baby and Rashomon at North Coast Rep. He’s currently the Director of Production for Lyric Opera
San Diego. Lighting designs include: Iolanthe, The Merry Widow, The King and I, Countess Maritza, and The Mikado. San Diego: Das Barbecu, The Wiz, West Side Story and Rumors. Regional: Yankee Doodle Dandy (Seattle), Noises Off! (Boston), The Game, (Washington DC) and Primal Twang, a guitar concert featuring six Grammy-winning artists. Matthew holds a BA in Technical Theatre from San Diego State University, and an MFA from Boston University.

Jeannie Galioto (Costume Design)

Jeannie has an MFA in costume design and credits include productions for the San Diego Repertory Theatre, Diversionary Theatre (where she won a Patte award for Best Costume Design), The Guthrie Lab, Ion Theatre, Mixed Blood Theatre, Moxie Theatre, and Shakespeare in the Park to name a few.  She was the costume design assistant for the multiple Tony award winning show Memphis.   In addition to freelance designing, she has taught at USD, SDSU, The Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising, and Palomar College.  Please visit her website at

Chris Luessmann (Sound Design)

Chris’ favorite NCR designs include: Dracula and A Christmas Carol, for which he won Patté Awards, King O’ the Moon, Gee’s Bend, Over the Tavern, JaquesBrel..., The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, Baby, and Voice of the Prairie. Off-Broadway: The Third Story. Miracle Theatre Productions: Das Barbecu, Too Old for the Chorus, and Forbidden Broadway SVU. Moonlight Stage Productions: Les Miserables, Little Shop of Horrors, The Marvelous Wonderettes, The Magic Fire,  Moon Over Buffalo. La Jolla Playhouse: Billy Crystal’s 700 Sundays, Romy and Michelle’s High School Reunion. Scripps Ranch Theatre: Red Herring. UCSD: Angels in America, Full Circle, Eurydice, Labyrinth of Desire, Cabaret, Rosencrantz & Guildenstern are Dead, and The Skin of Our Teeth. Chris holds a BA in Theatre from UCLA, and an MFA in Theatre from UC San Diego.

Annie Bornhurst (Props & Set Dressing)

North Coast Repertory Theatre: Dames at Sea, Two by Pinter: The Lover and The Dumb Waiter, THIS, Visiting Mister Green, The Lion in Winter, Heroes, Lend Me a Tenor, My Name is Asher Lev, King O’ the Moon, The Drawer Boy, Gee’s Bend, Becky’s New Car, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, The Voice of the Prairie, Ghosts, Little Women, Glorious!, A Christmas Carol, Talley’s Folly,  I Love You Because, Don’t Dress for Dinner, Over the Tavern, Old Wicked Songs, Rabbit Hole. Actors Circle Theatre: The View from Here. The Sanford
Meisner Center: Frankie and Johnny, Babes and Brides.


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