It has been said that before one can become a worthy writer, one should have "life experience. " If that be so, Willy Russell did what it takes to become a writer. Not unlike the character of Rita (nee Susan) in "Educating Rita," his hit comedy play which became a film, Russell came from decidedly "working class" roots. His father and mother sold fish-and-chips, and Russell left school at age 15 becoming a ladies' hairdresser (as "Rita" was) and warehouse laborer. Although he was also performing and composing folk music with a group called the Kirbytown Three, it was not until 1969 that Russell began to attend college. He had his first play, "Keep Your Eyes Down" produced in Liverpool in 1971 while he was still a student. Upon receiving an education degree in 1973, he taught school. But the theatre still had an allure, and Russell had several other plays produced in Liverpool until his Beatles send-up, "John, Paul, George, Ringo...and Bert" was moved from Liverpool to the West End of London in 1974 and won the London Theatre Critics Award. Russell left teaching school behind and became the writer-in-residence at C.F. Mott College of Education in Liverpool and then at Manchester Polytechnic.