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Discover Dr. Ruth's Story in BECOMING DR. RUTH at Orlando Shakes

Discover Dr. Ruth's Story in BECOMING DR. RUTH at Orlando Shakes

Becoming Dr. Ruth by Mark St. Germain, produced by Orlando Shakes in partnership with UCF, runs from January 8 - February 9, 2020. In this incredible one-woman performance, actress Eileen DeSandre* embodies media personality Dr. Ruth in a tell-all reflection of her extraordinary life. Becoming Dr. Ruth is presented in partnership with the Holocaust Memorial and Resource Center of Central Florida through the generous support of Jim and Valeria Shapiro. Tickets (starting at $30) are available now by phone (407) 447-1700 ext. 1, online at, or in person at the John and Rita Lowndes Shakespeare Center (812 East Rollins Street).

"So many people know Dr. Ruth Westheimer as the radio and TV sex therapist. However, there is so much more to her incredible life journey," says Valeria Shapiro, Orlando Shakes Board Secretary and sponsor of this production. "In the play, Becoming Dr. Ruth, by the well known playwright Mark St. Germain (Best of Enemies, Freud's Last Session), we learn the amazing real story of Dr. Ruth, the Holocaust survivor, who refused to define herself by her early experience and, instead, has lived and continues to live a life of determined optimism, helping and inspiring others to this day. This is a great story of resilience and hope that we want to share with all our friends in Central Florida."

She fled the Nazis as a child, trained as a scout for the Haganah in Jerusalem, and struggled as a single mother when she came to America - before she was known as Dr. Ruth, sex therapist of radio and television. You're invited into the apartment and into the life of America's sex therapist, Dr. Ruth. This intimate one-woman show explores the extraordinary life of German-Jewish American Karola Ruth Seigel, the woman behind the familiar voice answering the questions we dare not ask. Becoming Dr. Ruth is guaranteed to make you laugh, blush, cry, and leave you utterly verklempt.

DeSandre makes her Orlando Shakes debut as the starring role, portraying the iconic radio and television personality we all know and love. She first tackled this one-woman show to glowing reviews in the first post-NYC production of Becoming Dr. Ruth at Virginia Rep in Richmond.

"I knew Eileen years ago when we were both working at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. I remembered her as a disciplined and creative performer, committed to the process," says Director Cynthia White. "We had a good chat by phone and she sent an audition tape that solidified for me her connection with the character. Despite having done the part before, her audition was fresh and vibrant and also detailed. It's fun to reconnect with a colleague after many years."

DeSandre is a member of Actors' Equity and a Lifetime Company Member of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival where, over 17 seasons, she played such varied roles as Holofernes in Love's Labour's Lost; Bessie Berger in Awake and Sing; Juliana Tesman in Hedda Gabler; Nurse Preen in The Man Who Came to Dinner; Bertha Katz in Paradise Lost; Francis Flute in A Midsummer Night's Dream; and Maddalena Guarnieri in the OSF and Kennedy Center productions of The Magic Fire. Work at other theatres has included Miss Helen in The Road to Mecca (Profile Theatre, Portland); the Nurse in Romeo and Juliet (Riverside Theatre, NYC); Lotte Schoen in Lettice and Lovage (Loessin Theatre, Greenville, NC); and Jeanne d'Arc in Jeanne d'Arc au Bucher (Oregon Bach Festival; conducted by Marin Alsop), as well as the first post-NYC production of Becoming Dr. Ruth at Virginia Rep in Richmond.

"I am so grateful to Cynthia for the chance to revisit this role and re-explore Dr. Ruth's message of resilience, humor, courage, and love," says DeSandre. "I've had five more years of life experience to bring to the table. This play is a feast, and I hope folks bring an appetite."

Director Cynthia White's directing credits include A Midsummer Night's Dream, Woman in Mind, Toys in the Attic, Ballerina, The Voice of the Prairie, and the world premiere of Emma's Child (Oregon Shakespeare Festival); Shadowlands (Pioneer Theatre Company); A Streetcar Named Desire (Utah Shakespeare Festival); Twelfth Night and Our Town (Alabama Shakespeare Festival); Othello (Marin Shakespeare); and Macbeth at the Ford Center for the Performing Arts at the University of Mississippi Theatre. At Orlando Shakes she directed A Doll's House, Part 2, Native Gardens, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and Dancing Lessons. White is Orlando Shakes' Director of New Play Development, introducing new plays to Orlando Shakes through PlayFest. At UCF, credits include directing The Lion in Winter and Boy Gets Girl, as well as work developing UCF's Pegasus PlayLab's inaugural season in which she staged workshop productions of Intuitive Men and Bathsheba's Psalms or A Woman of Unusual Beauty Taking a Bath.

The artistic team also includes Scenic Designer Bert Scott**, Lighting & Projection Designer Rob Siler**, Costume Designer Alison Reid, and Sound Designer Britt Sandusky.

*Member of Actors' Equity Association
**Member of United Scenic Artists


Preview Dates: January 8 & 9 at 7:30 p.m.

Opening Date: January 10 at 7:30 p.m.

Senior Matinees: January 15, 22, 29, & February 5 at 2:00 p.m.

Talk Back Performance: January 26 at 2:00 p.m.

Opening Night Party & Pre-Show Chat - Friday, January 10

Arrive at 6:15 p.m. to enjoy free light appetizers, followed by a brief, informative discussion about the creative process with the director and members of the creative team. Free to all opening night ticket holders. No RSVP necessary.

NEW! Guest Talkback: A Holocaust Survivor's - Sunday, January 19

After the performance on Sunday, January 19, 2020 at 2:00 pm, the Holocaust Memorial Resource and Education Center of Florida will host an intimate moderated chat with local Holocaust survivor, Sonja Marchensano. Listen to her story of hope, survival, and the challenges her family faced through the Holocaust.



Wednesdays - Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and every Sunday and select Saturdays at 2:00 p.m. - starting at $30

Preview Performances and Senior Matinees - starting at $20

DISCOUNTS (May not be combined with any other offers)

Group Sales: 20% off groups of 10+

Student Rush: $15 - 30 minutes prior to show w/ valid student ID

Student and Active/Retired Military: $10 off single ticket prices w/ valid ID (Only available in Price Levels A and B)

$25 Under 35: Patrons under 35 years old can purchase $25 tickets for evening and weekend matinee performances during January 22 - 26. Call the Box Office at (407) 447-1700 ext. 1 or purchase online with code word: 25UNDER35 (Only available in Price Levels B and C.)

If it were a movie, Becoming Dr. Ruth would be rated "PG-13". Children under 5 will not be admitted to our Signature Series productions. For the complete content advisory, please visit:

WARNING: Strong sexual content.

Becoming Dr. Ruth is presented by Jim and Valeria Shapiro and the Holocaust Memorial Resource and Education Center of Central Florida.

Photo Credit: Christian Knightly

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