The Life Story of Dr. Ruth on Stage at Theater NorthWest

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Ah, my favorite time of the year has arrived! The leaves are changing colors, the kids are back in school and Theater NorthWest opens its first show of the 22/23 season. The last time we opened a salon in September was in 2019.

Ah, my favorite time of the year has arrived! The leaves are changing colors, the kids are back in school and Theater NorthWest opens its first show of the 22/23 season. The last time we opened a salon in September was in 2019.

We are really excited to offer a season of four shows.

The first show carries name recognition for many, Becoming Dr. Ruth.

Many of us know her as a world famous sex therapist and she certainly is, but there is so much more to her story.

Karola Ruth Westheimer was born on June 4, 1928 in Wiesenfeld, Germany to a Jewish family. Before the start of World War II, her parents sent her to an orphanage in Switzerland for her safety.

During production, we hear about her time there and are introduced to a girl who doesn’t lose hope. A line from Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream could serve as a mission statement for Dr. Ruth “though she is small she is fierce”.

Westheimer was 17 and only 4ft 7in tall when she joined the Haganah as a scout and sniper. (That’s something I never knew about her until I read the play.) She was injured and almost lost both of her feet. She then moved to France to study psychology and immigrated to America in 1956. She received her master’s degree in sociology in 1959 and her doctorate at the age of 42.

From there, she started with a radio show and continued her career hosting several series on various cable television networks. This is just a brief summary of his life, although it is only a one act show, we learn a lot about Dr Ruth. Playwright Mark St. Germain has done an exquisite job capturing this strong Jewish woman. She is funny, inspiring and shares with us the most difficult and vulnerable moments.

I know some people might be put off by the fact that it’s a one-man show, and I can understand that we love going to the theater to see actors connect with each other and we get a glimpse of the life from the fourth wall. This show offers real connection as Dr. Ruth shares so much with us in her cluttered Washington Heights apartment in the span of 90 minutes. We feel like spending an afternoon with an old friend rather than watching a play.

Actors who perform in solo shows are some of the most talented actors I’ve seen. They have to hold the audience’s attention for the duration of the show and often take on a multitude of characters and find ways to differentiate them both physically and vocally. With Dr Ruth, we were lucky to have found an incredibly talented and generous actress, Natascha Girgis and an equally talented director, Mark Bellamy at the helm. I attended the first reading and was mesmerized; engaged all the time with the impression of listening to Dr. Ruth herself. I urge everyone to get their tickets so they can learn more about our favorite sex therapist. There will be laughter and maybe tears and honor to hear this woman’s incredible life story.

Becoming Dr. Ruth runs through October 12 at Theater NorthWest.

Melissa Glover is an artistic associate at Theater NorthWest and a local actress, director and teacher

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