"BECOMING DR. RUTH" AN INTIMATE PORTRAIT OF A FASCINATING LADY

By Bonnie Goldberg

If you have a delicate question of a sexual nature, you can be assured of a frank and honest answer if you direct your query to the queen of sex therapists, Dr. Ruth. To get up close and personal to this four foot seven inch dynamo who just celebrated her eighty-fifth birthday, parade yourself over to Hartford TheaterWorks for the almost world premiere of "Becoming Dr.Ruth" until Sunday, July 14. The Barrington Stage Company of  Massachusetts preempted that honor of world premiere status last year.

Dr. Ruth Westheimer has packed a lot of living in her eight and a half decades on earth. From her early childhood in Germany, her adventurous life took off like a rocket. When she was only ten, her father was arrested simply because he was Jewish and taken away by the Nazis. Her mother and grandmother wisely put her on the Kindertransport with other children to save her life by being sent to an orphanage in Switzerland. Through many dark years that followed, she held on to her grandmother's philosophy: "Always be happy and cheerful. You are loved."

Mark St. Germain has penned a delightful and intimate look into the life of this astonishing woman. She is brought to vibrant and enchanting life in the hands of actress Debra Jo Rupp. She embodies Dr Ruth in enthusiasm, body and spirit, with actions and voice, as she relates her intriguing journey with anecdotes, photos and mementos.

After residing for thirty-six years in the same New York City apartment, with views of the Hudson River, she is moving. Her third husband Fred has died and she knows change is good. As she packs her books, pictures and collections of dollhouses and turtles, she reminisces about her past, from losing her family, settling in Palestine and later in America. Can you imagine this diminutive lady as a sniper in the Haganah? Her size was actually a bonus in this spy work as a scout. In this imaginative play, you will learn that this woman who worked diligently to earn her doctorate, loved Shirley Temple, encouraged Governor Bill Clinton to run for the presidency and  would have been happy to be a kindergarten teacher.

Julianne Boyd directs this intimate portrait of a remarkable journey as Karola Ruth Siegel at the helm steering her way to her destiny as Dr. Ruth.

For tickets ($50-63, student rush $17 if available), call TheaterWorks, 233 Pearl Street, Hartford at 860-527-7838 or online at www.theaterworkshartford.org. Performances are Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday matinees at 2:30 p.m. Come early to the upstairs lobby art gallery sponsored by The Hartford Financial Services Group and enjoy the exhibition of mixed media "Mixus," by a group of Hartford artists who have been sharing artistic knowledge since 2003.

Two lessons that Dr. Ruth learned through the collections she has saved over the years: her dollhouses are safe havens for her dolls because she didn't have any control over her life growing up and her turtles that are symbolic that it has to take a risk and stick its neck out if its wants to move forward.

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