BY GEORGE J. DACRE
Irish actress Anne O’Sullivan puts on a spectacular one-woman show at Penguin Theatre within the setting of the famous Dr. Ruth’s Washington Heights apartment in Manhattan. Dr. Ruth herself appeared at the theatre Sunday, August 16, one day after the Rockland County Times was in attendance to review the show.
The show, written by Mark St. Germain, tells the story of a woman who escaped the Nazis as a child and grew up as an orphan in Switzerland after losing her family to the Holocaust. The woman becomes an Israeli Army sniper, gets wounded, and travels to Israel, France and the USA. There, she earns her doctorate degree and goes on to become the famous radio and TV personality and author, Dr. Ruth.
O’Sullivan uses props and actual photos of Dr. Ruth and her new families (she was married three times and had two children and four grandchildren), and the result is extraordinary theatre at Penguin Repertory in Stony Point, the gutsiest little theatre. O’Sullivan intersperses the show with comments that Dr. Ruth made on sexual freedom, delighting and titillating the audience, many of them senior citizens, with the tidbits that Dr. Ruth is famous for.
Stephen Nachamie’s direction of O’Sullivan, along with the stage setting and sound effects, results in a 90-minute production that is entertaining and very informational about Dr. Ruth’s life story. Sunday afternoon Dr. Ruth, her husband and O’Sullivan had an after-performance chat with the audience and Penguin’s artistic director Joe Brancato that was delightful. The 87-year-old Dr. Ruth then sold books and autographed them at a reception outdoors of the theatre. It was a memorable theatre moment in Penguin’s distinguished history.
I rate “Becoming Dr. Ruth” four stars out of four! “Becoming Dr. Ruth” plays weekends through September 6 at Penguin. For tickets and information, go to penguinrep.org or call 845-786-2873.