'Rita,' 'Shirley' set for 16-week season

LONDON — The Menier Chocolate Factory’s twinned revivals of Willy Russell’s plays “Educating Rita” and “Shirley Valentine” will transfer to the West End’s 370-seat Trafalgar Studios for a 16-week season previewing from July 8.

Tim Piggot-Smith will take over from Larry Lamb in the role of Frank in “Rita” helmed by Jeremy Sams (“Noises Off,” “The Sound of Music”). Meera Syal will continue her solo turn in Glen Walford’s revival of “Shirley.”

The move comes as the 160-seat off-West End venue readies itself for Tony night where its productions of “La Cage aux Folles” and “A Little Night Music” are up for 15 noms. Its next production, “Paradise Found,” a new tuner helmed by Hal Prince and Susan Stroman, begins previews May 19 ahead of a May 26 opening.

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