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Play reveals the making of Dr. Ruth

Play reveals the making of Dr. Ruth

Ruth Westheimer is such a popular sex therapist, author and radio host that she has been widely known simply as Dr. Ruth.

While many are familiar with her frank and friendly advice about sex—all delivered in a high-pitched grandmotherly voice—few likely are aware of how she became an icon during the 1980s. That’s what the play Becoming Dr. Ruth: An Unexpected Journey, now on stage at ART Station, is about—her childhood in Germany, relatives she never saw again after the Holocaust, her marriages and how she entered the field of psychosexual therapy.

Judy Leavell is a convincing Dr. Ruth Westheimer in ART Station’s production Becoming Dr. Ruth.

Judy Leavell is a convincing Dr. Ruth Westheimer in ART Station’s production Becoming Dr. Ruth.

Judy Leavell does a commanding job in this one-woman play—channeling Ruth Westheimer for a full 90 minutes. Not only does she sound like Westheimer, but she’s also captures her animated mannerisms as she moves about the stage. Leavell, who last appeared on the ART Station stage 16 years ago, has performed in Driving Miss Daisy, See Rock City and Mama Makes Up Her Mind. Most recently she was in Actor’s Express Significant Other.

The play is set in Westheimer’s New York apartment as she’s packing for a move. As she wraps framed photos and other keepsakes, she talks directly to the audience, recalling family members and her life in Germany and Switzerland before she came to the United States. She also reveals how she was introduced to world of psychosexual therapy.

While filled with laugh-out-loud dialogue, this production is certainly not for the prudish. Dr. Ruth on stage, just like the real woman, talks about penis size, oral sex and other specific sexual matters casually and colorfully.

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Kudos to David Thomas, who directs the production, and Michael Hidalgo who’s responsible for scenography and sound design. Visual images cast on the stage and audio that captures situations from the past serve as sensory elements that round out the telling of the story.

The play, written by Mark St. Germain, made its world premiere in 2013 in Pittsfield, Ma.

Becoming Dr. Ruth runs through Nov. 20. For tickets or more information, call (770) 469-1105 or go to www.artstation.org

ART Station is located at 5384 Manor Drive, Stone Mountain.

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