TV soap actress takes on Rita role at The Mowlem in Swanage

Coronation Street actress Kimberley Hart Simpson is starring in a new production of Educating Rita at The Mowlem as part of the Swanage Rep series.

Kimberley played escort Nicky Wheatley in the long-running soap last year, and previously appeared in Hollyoaks.


It’s her first visit to Swanage, but having grown up in the North Wales seaside town of Rhyl, she finds it has a familiar feel.

She said:

“I’ve never been to Swanage before, but it has elements of home – the sea and lots of sea gulls! The rehearsals have been very full on, but I hope to explore a bit more.”

Keith Hill and Kimberly Hart-Simpson

Co-star Keith Hill, who plays Frank, with Kimberley Hart Simpson

‘Lifelong ambition”

Her stint at Coronation Street was the fulfilment of a long-held ambition but also came at a strange time during the Covid crisis of last year.

She said:

“The experience of it all was amazing. I had been angling for the show for a long time – it was a lifelong ambition, and it didn’t disappoint at all. I knew I was in the company of legends, and they took me on board and made me really welcome.”

Educating Rita poster

Educating Rita has a rare strong female lead role

“A bit frightening”

Starring in Educating Rita provides her with a welcome return to the stage.

She said:

“I’ve not been on the stage for four years and having to tap into that different skillset has been a bit frightening but it’s good to get back to my roots.”

Keith Hill and Kimberly Hart-Simpson

Growing up by the seaside, Swanage ‘feels like home’

Modern classic

The show also means a reunion with the director, Alice Bartlett, who gave the actress her first break ten years ago, fresh out of drama school.

Kimberley said:

“It’s a joy to be back with her. She’s extremely intelligent and patient and a force to be reckoned with in terms of directors.”

The play, with just two acting parts, was written by Liverpudlian playwright Willy Russell and has become a modern classic.

It tells the story of two people from very different worlds who find an unlikely connection. Rita, a 26-year-old Liverpudlian hairdresser, is on a quest to ‘better herself’.

Pursuing her passion for English literature, she enrols in an Open University course. Frank, a middle-aged university lecturer and Rita’s tutor, is bitter and cynical. Pained by his art, his medication is alcohol.

Swanage Rep posters with Swanage beach

Educating Rita – the second of three Swanage Rep productions

“It’s phenomenal”

Kimberley said:

“I think it’s phenomenal. There’s no actress who wouldn’t want to play that part. There are only a few standout plays for women and when you get one of those roles you know you’re in a really privileged position.”

She will be joined by Keith Hill, enjoying his third season at Swanage. His previous appearances for Swanage Rep include Sir Humphrey in the play Yes, Prime Minister in 2017 and the doctor in the Railway Children in 2018.

Kimberley added :

“It’s always a worry when you join up in a two hander but the working relationship is spot on – we’ve grasped each other’s way of working and been able to encourage each other.”

Rita (Kimberly Hart Simpson) and Frank (Keith Hill)
Swanage Rep

In rehearsals – their acting is ‘instinctive’ producer says

“Script is amazing”

Producer Katherine Mount said:

“The script is amazing but they are adding an instinctive, very truthful portrayal to each of the characters.”

Director Alice Bartlett said: “I’m so thrilled to be coming back to Swanage – which holds many happy childhood memories for me.

“It’s a play about self-empowerment, aspiration and authenticity. It reminds us that learning is for life, not just for exams.”

Production company, Hordern Ciani, has received funding from Arts Council England and the Culture Recovery Fund.

The play opens Tuesday 7th September 2021 and runs until Saturday 11th September 2021.

Keith Hill

Third season in Swanage for Keith Hill

Book tickets

Tickets can be booked via The Mowlem box office, which is open Monday to Saturday 10.30 am to 1.30 pm, by phoning 0333 666 3366 or via its website

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