Coro Star Rula Lenska coming to New Zealand for stage show of The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

Chris Lynch
Chris Lynch
Nov 26, 2023 |

Coronation Street star RULA LENSKA is coming to New Zealand to reprise her role as Madge in the stage production of The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel – Live on Stage.

Best known for her outrageous Coronation Street character Claudia Colby – the frenemy of fellow hairdresser Audrey Roberts – Rula won critical acclaim for her performances in the UK stage production of Marigold, and is thrilled to be coming to Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch in April and May 2024. Further cast announcements will be made shortly.

In a moment of spontaneity, Rula’s character Madge Hardcastle (played by Celia Imrie in the movie) leaves her daughter’s home where she’s supposed to be babysitting, suddenly choosing to find a rich husband at the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel in modern Bangalore.

Madge joins a motley crew of elderly Brits who have grown disillusioned with their own country and decide they want a change. Half of them have been widowed and are lost in the wilderness of their twilight years, trying to find a new meaning to their lives.

They don’t want to inconvenience their families and feel invisible in the country of their birth, which has become a place they no longer recognise.

So they are outsourced to a new “residential hotel” in India – which is far cheaper for the state and less hassle for their families. What they don’t realise is that the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel will change their lives forever.

For Rula, life has been one long adventure. Descendant from Polish royalty and classed as a Countess still today, Rula’s big break into stardom happened in 1976 on the British TV series Rock Follies.

In the late 1970s, she began to appear in commercials for the hair product Alberto VO5, which were shown on US television. Though she was known in Britain, she was almost unknown in the United States but that was all about to change. In a Tonight Show monologue broadcast after the commercials started running, Johnny Carson asked “Who the hell is Rula Lenska?” and began using her name as a running joke on his show. Around the same time, Jane Curtin played Rula in a sketch on Saturday Night Live.

Lenska has appeared in the television series Special Branch, Minder (where she met her husband Dennis Waterman), Boon, The Detectives, Footballers’ Wives, To the Manor Born, One Foot in the Grave, Casualty, Space: 1999, Return of the Saint, Robin of Sherwood, Doctors, and EastEnders. In the 1970s, she appeared in the serial Resurrection of the Daleks and played Mrs Peacock in series 2 of Cluedo.

In 2009, Rula arrived on Coronation Street as Claudia Colby, an old friend of Audrey Roberts, the owner of Perm Suspect. In 2011, she embarked on a relationship with widower Marc Selby. When she learned that Marc was a secret cross-dresser and that Audrey had known about the habit, Claudia broke off the relationship in disgust and also ended her truce with Audrey.

In 2018, Claudia poached Audrey’s best stylist Maria Connor as her partner in a business expansion. The pair eventually bought Audrey’s salon together when financial pressures forced Audrey to sell up. The partnership lasted until 2020, when Claudia and Maria sold to developer Ray Crosby.

Chris Lynch
Chris Lynch

Chris Lynch is a journalist, videographer and content producer, broadcasting from his independent news and production company in Christchurch, New Zealand. If you have a news tip or are interested in video content, email [email protected]

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