Coronation St Star Rula Lenksa Coming To New Zealand

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel - Coronation St Star Rula Lenksa Coming To New Zealand

Published: Monday 13 November, 2023

It is with great excitement that producers announce 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 Coro St 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.

Meanwhile, Claudia had become involved with Ken Barlow and in 2020 they decided to sell their homes and live together at Stillwaters retirement complex. After a few weeks, a homesick Ken returned to Coronation Street and the pair mutually decided to end their relationship.

Billed as an iconic actress, Rula’s stage credits are equally impressive, including the West End shows The Vagina Monologues and 84Charing Cross Road, and also in many pantomimes. She has appeared in film since 1974, her most recent being this year’s The Picture of Dorian Gray based on the 1890 Oscar Wilde novel, in which she was the narrator. On radio Rula played Lintilla and her clones in the second series of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.

In 2006, she appeared in the UK version of Celebrity Big Brother. Her reason for accepting the invitation to go on the show was "I'm a crazy Polish countess who likes a challenge".

Are you ready to take the trip of a lifetime with Rula?

Based on the Sunday Times bestseller that became a blockbuster movie, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is a joyous comedy about taking risks, finding love and embracing second chances, even in the most surprising of places.

Presented by the Stetson Group in association with Ben McDonald Presents, the Ryman Healthcare season of The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel will premiere at Auckland’s The Civic on 23 April, then move to Wellington’s St James on 7 May and finally, the James Hay Theatre on 15 May.

Seasons will be strictly limited. Tickets start at $65* via Ticketmaster and Ticketek.

A truly heart-warming experience, reinforcing the power of watching live theatre.

Colin Richmond’s striking set simultaneously presents inside and outside spaces at the run-down colonial home turned hotel. Inside, passageways and staircases surround a central reception area.

Outside, lush green plants and delicate fairy lights create an oasis of old-world Indian charm in a courtyard garden. The attention to detail is impressive and immersive, right down to the hum of traffic and echoing call to prayer audible in the distance.

Join us on this incredible journey. 


For media inquiries, contact Sandra Roberts 021 525104 | 

Print quality photos available for download at


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