Wednesday, May 26, 2021

BECOMING DR. RUTH - The Phoenix Theatre Company - June 2 - June 27, 2021


By Mark St. Germain
Directed By Katie McFadzen

Mainstage Theatre

The incredible journey of the girl who fled Nazi Germany and became America’s most famous sex therapist

Everyone knows Dr. Ruth Westheimer as America’s most famous sex therapist. Few know her incredible journey to get there. Becoming Dr. Ruth is filled with the humor, honesty, and life-affirming spirit of Karola Ruth Siegel, the girl who fled the Nazis in the Kindertransport, joined the Haganah in Jerusalem as a sniper, struggled as a single mother newly-arrived in America – and eventually became “Dr. Ruth,” America’s Sex Therapist. A triumphant and heartwarming story of a woman who found her own unique place in the world.

Cast:
Debra K. Stevens: Dr. Ruth
Jodie Weiss: Dr. Ruth (understudy)
Alex Crossland: Walter  
Dwayne Hartford: Eric  
James Gish: Male Announcer  
Matravius Avent: Male Caller  
Trisha Ditsworth: Woman Caller 1 
Cassie Chilton: Woman Caller 2  
Katie McFadzen: Woman Caller 3 
Michelle Chin: Young Woman Caller 

After nearly 16 months, the Valley’s oldest live performance venue, The Phoenix Theatre Company, is excited to welcome audiences back indoors this summer. The 102 season kicks off with the one-woman show, Becoming Dr. Ruth June 2 and runs through June 27.

The off-Broadway hit stars local veteran actress Debra K. Stevens as Dr. Ruth. Stevens and director Katie McFadzen have collaborated on nearly 80 shows together over the past 28 years.  

Opening on the Mainstage Theatre, Becoming Dr. Ruth chronicles the life of noted psychologist Dr. Ruth Westheimer from her early years fleeing Nazi Germany and her time spent as a sniper in Jerusalem to the path she took to becoming America’s most famous sex therapist.  

Becoming Dr. Ruth is a triumphant and heartwarming story of a woman who found her own unique place in the world after many personal struggles. The show demonstrates true perseverance and determination sprinkled with humor, honesty and life-affirming spirit.

“During the live performance, audiences will be invited into Dr. Ruth's apartment as she prepares to move.” Said director, Katie McFadzen. “They will hear stories from this incredible woman about the events in her life that led her to becoming the Dr. Ruth that we know today.  While there's plenty of humor connected to her sex therapist stories, the play is also about survival, loss, resilience and hope.  Dr. Ruth’s life is truly remarkable. She fled Nazi Germany on the Kindertransport, she joined the Haganah in Jerusalem as a sniper, she was a single mother when she came to the USA, she was married three times, and the only possession she has from her childhood is a washcloth with her initials on it. Yet, through it all, everything she does – and is – comes from a place of pure joy.”

Dr. Ruth’s career skyrocketed in 1980 with her pioneering radio show, “Sexually Speaking.” The listener call-in program was a bold, original sex therapy advice program and it caught the attention of the nation. She went on to author 44 books dispensing advice on all matters of human relationships and even had a board game created in her honor, “Dr. Ruth’s Game of Good Sex.”

To enhance the one-woman show, The Phoenix Theatre Company will incorporate photos and props including television screens to play videos, and sound and lighting designed to support stories that convey the enormity of Dr. Ruth’s life. 

While The Phoenix Theatre Company adapted during the pandemic and produced shows in an outdoor venue, they are excited about the return to some normalcy.

“It has been a long time coming but we are unbelievably grateful to welcome audiences back into our home,” said Michael Barnard, producing artistic director at The Phoenix Theatre Company. “The last year brought countless creative and financial challenges, but we weathered them and have come out stronger. As a community, we are beyond grateful to announce our 102nd season with shows hand-picked to demonstrate resilience and tenacity. We have no doubt our supporters will be just as happy to see a return to live performance as we are.”

Becoming Dr. Ruth is the first show produced indoors at The Phoenix Theatre Company since the start of the global pandemic. To keep audiences safe, face masks and temperature checks will be required for all staff and patrons. The indoor theatre’s ventilation systems exceed recommendations by public health officials, and cleaning and disinfecting will occur frequently. Seating will not be socially-distanced. As vaccines become more available and accessible, safety protocols will be updated to ensure patron and staff comfort and wellbeing.

Tickets for the summer season, which also includes Daddy Long Legs and Pump Boys and Dinettes, are on sale now. To purchase call (602) 254-2151 or visit www.phoenixtheatre.com.

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