Even the ’60s hairstyles and clothing look new and appealing in this “Pygmalion” tale of a young hairdresser seeking to change her life.
As with most Huntington productions, the set of “Educating Rita” is superb. Allen Moyer has turned the vast stage into a stuffy, oversized academic office complete with huge, dust-laden windows that haven’t been open for years. Through the glass, Seaghan McKay’s projections cleverly mark the changing seasons.
As Rita, Jane Pfitsch is like a splash of bright color against a drab, stodgy backdrop. Brimming with enthusiasm and youthful optimism, Pfitsch’s Rita is like a breath of fresh air whether oiling a creaky door or simply barging through it unannounced.
Andrew Long complements her ray of sunshine as Frank, the burnt-out, booze-soaked professor who now teaches merely to fund his love of drinking. The transition from crotchety old drunk to vulnerable man truly hurt by Rita’s no-show at his dinner party is subtle perfection. And the mere expression on his face when Rita suggests amateur theater is great is understated comedy.
While the duo’s playful banter is the initial appeal of this piece, it’s the education of both Rita and Frank that’ll leave you smiling long after school is out.