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‘Shirley,’ ‘Rita’ named for West End run

Menier Chocolate Factory double bill will transfer this summer

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 engagement beginning previews July 8.

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

The move comes as the Menier, the 160-seat Off West End venue, readies itself for the Tonys, for which the Broadway transfers of the company’s productions of “La Cage aux Folles” and “A Little Night Music” have a combined total of 15 nominations. Its next London offering, “Paradise Found,” a new tuner helmed by Hal Prince and Susan Stroman, begins previews today ahead of the May 26 opening.

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