Art Station's Triumphant Season Opener
By Doc Lawrence
STONE MOUNTAIN, GA-Audiences will remember Judy Leavell as the steel magnolia in Art Station’s acclaimed production of Mama Makes up Her Mind. Her return to this stage in Becoming Dr. Ruth, An Unexpected Journey, portraying America’s most popular sex educator, is a resounding testament to the power and majesty of live theater.
Everyone knows Dr. Ruth Westheimer – from her career as a pioneering radio and television sex therapist. Few, however, know the incredible journey that preceded it. From fleeing the Nazis in the Kindertransport to Switzerland, to joining the Haganah in Jerusalem as a sniper, to her struggle to succeed as a single mother newly arrived in America, Mark St. Germain deftly illuminates this remarkable woman’s untold story. Becoming Dr. Ruth is filled with the humor, honesty, and life-affirming spirit of Karola Ruth Siegel, the girl who became “Dr. Ruth,” America’s most famous sex therapist. Many recall Dr. Ruth Westheimer as America’s grandmotherly sex therapist.
Becoming Dr. Ruth also recounts her sobering and heroic life even before her 1980s fame, when she was a German Jewish refugee and Holocaust survivor during World War II, and then a gun-toting Israeli pioneer.
Dr. Ruth is revealed as a practical woman deeply steeped in wit and hard-earned wisdom, with strength of character that allowed her to survive and triumph over unconscionable loss to craft a career that through humor and wisdom brought happiness to millions of fans.
Fairly described as a comedy, Dr. Ruth pricks the soul and conscious, reminding the audience that once civilized Germany embraced a monster who early on sent SS goon squads to collect Jews including Ruth’s father.
There are moments of rollicking humor juxtaposed with tenderness and sadness. Life has such swings and Ms. Leavell, brilliantly directed by David Thomas, interprets everything flawlessly. Her version of Dr. Ruth is very near to the Dr. Ruth millions saw with Johnny Carson and David Letterman
Go see Dr. Ruth. It’s your opportunity to master the highly useful “Westheimer Maneuver.”
Runs through Nov. 20. www.artstation.org; (770) 469.1105