Becoming Dr. Ruth

Photo courtesy North Coast Rep

For those of us who admire chameleon-like actors — Meryl Streep, Danial Day-Lewis, Kate Winslet, and the late James Whitmore, are all members of this disappear-into-their-character club of thespians — another one of these mystical performers is one who may not yet be on everyone’s screen (or stage) radar. Nonetheless, having earned four Tony and two Emmy nominations, it’s time to become familiar with the formidable talents of Tovah Feldshuh. 
Ms. Feldshuh is currently starring in the title role of North Coast Rep’s production ofBecoming Dr. Ruth, which is meticulously scripted by Mark St. Germain and given focused direction by David Ellenstein (and is, due to Covid-19 safeguards, now streaming through July 14). 
It’s astonishing to witness Ms. Feldshuh absorb the traits of Dr. Ruth Westheimer, who was born  Karola Ruth Seigal on June 4, 1928, in Wiesenfeld, Germany. Westheimer is the sole child of Irma, a housekeeper, and Julius Seigal, a salesman and son of the family for whom Irma was employed. It is equally astonishing to behold the effervescence and life-affirming perspectives of Dr. Ruth and how these qualities are so credibility captured by Ms. Feldsuh’s embodiment of the delightful Dr. Ruth. 
As a Jewish child, Karola — as Dr. Ruth was then called — was forced to flee Germany (initially to Switzerland), after her father was apprehended by Hitler’s supporters during Kristallnacht (the infamous “Night of Broken Glass”) as Nazism ascended to power in the 1930s. Later, Karola would be transplanted to Israel and later she would move to New York and pursue an education, eventually earning American citizenship. 
During this 90-minute virtual staging, we learn of Dr. Ruth’s three marriages, her two children, her love of education — both learning and teaching — and her gentle frankness that allows her to frame questions of sex and sexuality in a manner that is not judgmental but clear and always underscored by the notion that love-making is exactly that: an act that should stem from love and in itself creates love. 
With costuming by Elisa Benzoni, projections and sound design by Aaron Ramsey, a detailed scenic design by Marty Burnett, as well as a plethora of props created by Phillip Korth, Ms. Feldshuh is given crafty support in her solo performance of Dr. Ruth. Indeed, Tovah Feldshuh believably becomes  Dr. Ruth in this celebration of a most unique life. Becoming Dr. Ruth will stream on on demand from June 9 to July 14. Tickets are $35 for individual viewings and $54 for group viewing and can be ordered at