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Michael at the Oaklands Hotel after the final performance of Educating Rita


From 27th - 29th August The Oaklands Hotel in Weaverham, Cheshire converted their function room into a 200 seat theatre for the 3 day duration of Educating Rita, the play by Willy Russell made famous by the 1983 film starring Michael Caine and Julie Walters.

We travelled down to Cheshire to see the play on the 29th and were really impressed.  The hotel had a lovely relaxed atmosphere and is set in beautiful grounds in the Weaverham countryside. 
When we checked in and went outside with our drinks Michael was sat on the table next to us with Suzanne Collins and Ian Kellgren the director! 
The food at the hotel was fantastic.  We had a carvery before the show which was possibly the best we've ever had, then sat in the garden and relaxed with a nice glass of wine before the performance started.
The theatre was pretty impressive considering it was normally a hotel function room with its tiered seating, and the stage itself looked very professional.  It was a really good performance - very funny but very sad.  I thought Michael did the drunk scenes really well, he had the cute tipsy smile down to a tee!  And he made the character more likeable than Michael Caine seemed to in the film.  Suzanne Collins did a really good job of Rita, how on earth she memorised all those lines I don't know. 
It was a very enjoyable play, even more so perhaps because it was a small venue and no matter what seats you had nobody was very far away from the front stage.  We really enjoyed it and the rest of the audience loved it, giving them a well deserved standing ovation at the end. 
I had been hoping there might be a signing session at the end of the show but as there weren't any programmes this didn't happen, so we just went back to the hotel bar.  You can imagine the surprise when I was stood at the bar waiting for the drinks, looked up and there was Michael a few feet away from me ordering a drink.  And he looked at me!!!! 
He had a lot of people talking to him so I thought I'd wait till he was free then ask him for a photo and an autograph.  The poor guy was trying to get from the bar to his table outside but there were so many people trying to talk to him it took about an hour before he almost made it to the door but I stopped him!  I felt awful but it was the only chance I had.  He was unbelievably nice about it when I asked for a photo and two autographs (one for the competition). 

Signed poster for the competition


This was the first time I'd ever met him and he wasn't at all how I'd expected.  Firstly, he's a really big bloke which I wasn't expecting.  He was nicely spoken with just the faintest hint of a Liverpool accent, really friendly, charming and very sexy!  He had a lovely distinctive laugh, and he looked a good ten years younger in the flesh.  He didn't rush away after the photo and he even took the time to chat with us for a while which under the circumstances was really nice of him.  We spoke for a while about how hot it had been in the theatre to the nightlife in Newcastle.  I was really surprised at how pleasant he had been.
We went back to the hotel room at about 1.30am.  I'm not sure what time Michael partied till but all I can say is we were woken at 4.30am by people returning to their rooms and that unmistakable laugh which came from the room adjoining ours.  Half past four!  What a party animal! 
All in all we had a really good time and if they do decide to do it all again at the end of the year I'd definitely recommend it.  The play was excellent, the hotel was beautiful, the food was beautiful and of course meeting Michael was the icing on the cake.


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