BSC’s “Dr. Ruth, All the Way” will be Updated, Revived for TheaterWorks in Hartford

Two Dr. Ruths - the real Dr. Ruth Westheimer on the left, and the actor Debra Jo Rupp on the right in Dr. Ruth, All the Way. Photo on right by Kevin Sprague.

Two Dr. Ruths – the real Dr. Ruth Westheimer on the left, and the actor Debra Jo Rupp on the right in Dr. Ruth, All the Way. Photo on right by Kevin Sprague.

Dr. Ruth, All the Way Moving on to TheaterWorks in Hartford
by Larry Murray

Rob Ruggiero travelled from Hartford to attend the second opening of Dr. Ruth, All the Way, this past September, at Barrington Stage Company. During intermission we chatted about the possibility of his bringing it to TheaterWorks in Hartford where he is the artistic director. The second iteration of the biographical play had incorporated some changes by playwright Mark St. Germain resulting in a tighter and even more compelling evening of theatre. (My Review) And the original was almost as engaging and complete.

Today’s announcement confirmed that the show is continuing its charmed life, and will move on to Hartford direct from its sold-out World Premiere at Barrington Stage Company. For this Dr. Ruth, All The Way, Julianne Boyd will continue to direct. Boyd is the co-founder and Artistic Director of Barrington Stage Company (BSC) and has been championing the work and Mark St. Germain, its author.

Building on the work’s past success, TheaterWorks’ production will be a third revised version of BSC’s production and will again star the amazing stage, film and television actress Debra Jo Rupp (Kitty Forman on That 70’s Show). Dr. Ruth, All the Way will run May 31st through July 7th, 2013.

Dr. Ruth (l) answers a question from Larry Murray.

Dr. Ruth (l) answers a question from Larry Murray.

Everyone knows Dr. Ruth not only from her career as a pioneering radio and television sex therapist, but from her time in Pittsfield this past summer where she was seemingly everywhere. Her fame as a colorful personality is impressive, but few know the incredible journey that preceded it.

From fleeing the Nazis in the Kindertransport and joining the Haganah in Jerusalem as a scout and sniper, to her struggles to succeed as a single mother coming to America, Dr. Ruth, All the Way is filled with the humor, honesty and life-affirming spirit of Karola Ruth Siegel, the girl who became “Dr. Ruth.” My interview with Dr. Ruth is still available for reading. Click here.

Rob Ruggiero

Rob Ruggiero

The connection between Boyd and Ruggiero goes back a long time, and Ruggiero has been responsible for some of Barrington Stage Company’s greatest successes over the years. They include a number of plays (Three Viewings 1996) and musicals (Falsettos 2002) at Barrington Stage over his career. The path between TheaterWorks and BSC is well worn. Ruggiero’s production of Lobby Hero was originally produced at Hartford TheaterWorks and traveled to Pittsfield a decade ago.

I have followed his brilliant work down over the years to Arena Stage in Washington, DC and at the Goodspeed Opera House in East Haddam, CT (CarouselRead Story) and Camelot (Read Review).

Ruggiero also conceived and directed an original musical revue entitled Make Me a Song: The Music of William Finn, which also had a successful run Off-Broadway. The production received nominations for both the Drama Desk Award for “Outstanding Review” and the Outer Critics Circle Award for “Outstanding New Off-Broadway Musical.”

Mark St Germain, acclaimed playwright of The Best of Enemies and Freud’s Last Session, deftly recounts Dr Ruth’s life with warmth, wisdom and an irrepressible joie de vivre. Debra Jo Rupp, in an outstanding tour-de-force performance, captures all these qualities in a sensitive and nuanced portrayal.

The production design team reunites Ruggiero with Brian Prather (Sets/Projections), Scott Pinkney (Lights), Jennifer Mueller (Costumes), Gabriella Pollino-Rodman (Wigs) and Jessica Paz (Sound). Production Manager is Michael Lenaghan.

The show will run May 31 through July 7, 2013, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Sundays: 7:30 p.m.; Fridays and Saturdays: 8:00 p.m. and Weekend Matinees: 2:30 p.m. Press Opening is Friday, June 7th at 8:00 p.m.

Admission: All Seats – General Admission: $50; Senior Discount – Saturday matinees: $35; Center Reserved Service Charge: $13; College-age Student Rush w/ID: $17 (subject to availability). For seats, call 860.527.7838. For more information, visit www.theaterworkshartford.org.

Debra Jo Rupp (Dr. Ruth) Barrington Stage Company: Ring ‘Round the Moon, To Kill a Mockingbird and The Laramie Project. Debra Jo Rupp is never happier than when she is performing on stage in the Berkshires, close to home. She has performed at Williamstown Theatre Festival in True West and A Flea in Her Ear, Berkshire Theatre Festival in Mornings at Seven and the Chester Theatre Company production of Lee Blessings’ Body of Water. In New York, Debra Jo has appeared on Broadway with Kathleen Turner and Charles Durning in the 1990 revival of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. She starred Off-Broadway in Cynthia Heimel’s A Girl’s Guide to Chaos (American Place), Frankie and Johnny in The Clair de Lune (Westside Arts) and The Butcher of Baraboo (Second Stage). Other Regional: Blithe Spirit and The Middle Ages (Whole Theatre Co.), Taking Steps (Virginia Stage Co.), Wall of Water (Yale Rep), Noises Off (Cape Playhouse), Moonlight and Valentino (Shafer Theatre).

Debra Jo has made over 300 television and film appearances and is probably best known for her role as “Kitty Forman” on the hit series “That 70’s Show”. Her feature films include playing Jay Baruchel’s mom in She’s Out of My League, Kickin It Old Skool, Air Buddies, Clockwatchers with Toni Collette and Parker Posey, Spymate, Lucky 13, Sgt. Bilko with Steve Martin and Dan Aykroyd, and her first film Big with Tom Hanks. Among her notable television appearances are booking agent “Katie” on “Seinfeld”, Phoebe’s sister-in-law on Friends and From the Earth to the Moon (dir. Sally Field), ER, The Office and Better With You to name a few.

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