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Debra Jo Rupp Is Becoming Dr. Ruth Off Broadway

Showtime might have Masters of Sex, but Off-Broadway has welcomed something far better to New York audiences: Dr. Ruth Westheimer, the tiny woman with the unmistakable accent who pulled the pin on the Puritanical hand grenade responsible for opening up the discussion of sex. Now, she's the subject of a new Off Broadway show, Becoming Dr. Ruth.

Debra Jo Rupp as Dr. Ruth Westheimer in Becoming Dr. Ruth Off Broadway
Photo: Carol Rosegg

In the event you weren’t around in 1980s, Dr. Ruth ruled radio and TV as the go-to therapist for sexual advice. Insightful, humorous, and unafraid to cut to the chase, Dr. Ruth redefined sexual education. But this is only a part of Westheimer’s intriguing story, which unfolds Tuesday through Sunday upstairs at the Westside Theatre (407 W. 43rd St. at Eighth Ave.).

Starring Debra Jo Rupp (known for playing Eric Forman’s sitcom mom on That ‘70s Show), this entertaining solo show — subtitled “an unexpected journey” — traces the indefatigable title character from a childhood that included fleeing the Nazis in the “Kindertransport,” becoming a scout and a sniper for the Haganah in Jerusalem, heading to America and, ultimately, carving out a singular success story.

Becoming Dr. Ruth Off Broadway
Photo: Carol Rosegg

Ms. Rupp makes a more than convincing Dr. Ruth as she ushers theatregoers through Westheimer’s life with humor, vibrancy and, of course, her character’s trademark puckishness.

This eye-opening, engaging production, written by Mark St. Germain and directed by Julianne Boyd, gets a critical A+. And for the record, Dr. Ruth attended opening night and may well return unannounced at any time. After all, the website tells us she “…is currently single and about town every night.” Visit becomingdoctorruth.com for tickets and more information.

About the Author

City Guide Theatre Editor Griffin Miller moved to New York to pursue an acting/writing career in the 1980s after graduating magna cum laude from Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio. Since then, she has written for The New York Times, For the Bride, Hotels, and a number of other publications, mostly in the areas of travel and performance arts. She currently is the theatre editor for all NYMetroParents publications. An active member of The New York Travel Writers Association, she is also a playwright and award-winning collage artist. In addition, she sits on the board of The Lewis Carroll Society of North America. Griffin is married to Richard Sandomir, a reporter for The New York Times.

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