Local audiences had their first chance to sit onstage at last night’s opening performance of Educating Rita and were left hugely captivated by this immersive viewing experience. The Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch has extended its stage to create a truly unique and intimate setting for Willy Russell’s iconic two-handed play. This rare opportunity enables a limited number of theatregoers every night to lose themselves in a piece of terrific theatre by sitting alongside the actors on stage. The theatre spoke to audience members after the show about their experience. Many were delighted to have been able to see the production in this way as it enhanced their overall enjoyment of the classic comedy. Here are some of their comments: ‘Sitting on the stage was quite unique because you felt you were immersed in the room with them; we were very, very close. It was nice to see the intimacy with the actors talking to each other. If you’ve got the chance, the best seats in the house are certainly on the stage.’ ‘The seats on the stage made it feel a bit cosier, really good idea, really good addition.’ ‘I had a great opportunity of being on the stage so I really got involved within the show and felt every emotion. It was a really beautiful play.’ ‘Excellent production and sitting on the stage was surreal.’ ‘I enjoyed being in the heart of the show on stage.’ Willy Russell’s hilarious yet moving comedy, Educating Rita follows the story of a hairdresser wanting to better herself with higher education. Frank becomes her assigned tutor, but grudgingly accepts the challenge. Slowly, Frank realises that his enthusiastic student has much to teach him too – making him question himself, his work and his very being in the process. Educating Rita runs at the Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch until 13 May. Tickets are from £18 - £29 and under 26s can sit onstage for £5. To book call the Box Office on 01708 443333, visit the theatre in person or go online at queens-theatre.co.uk. Please note the production is suitable for people aged 12+ as it contains some strong language.