In the opening scene of "Educating Rita," Willy Russell's bittersweet play about a 26-year-old hairdresser trying to start over and the alcoholic literature professor assigned to help her, Rita bounds into Frank's book-lined study for her first lesson.
Her attention is immediately drawn to an ostensibly chaste but erotically charged portrait on the wall, and within the blink of an eye she has offered a bawdy, original and wide-ranging interpretation of how that portrait works. Admitting he hasn't looked at it in years, the best Frank can manage is the bland assessment that it's "beautiful."
In the smart and well-acted Renaissance Theaterworks production of "Rita" that opened Saturday under Jenny Wanasek's direction, Cristina Panfilio and Jonathan Smoots use early vignettes like this one to set the tone - driving home the contrast between Rita's spirited will to live and Frank's self-imposed and self-pitying death watch.
Read the full article at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.