Chat with Ruthe Ponturo, creator, Til Divorce Do Us Part: Interview & Ticket Giveaway by Robin Gorman Newman
In support of my passion for theatre and desire to share with readers information about cool shows in NYC, I did an interview with the hysterical and candid Ruthe Ponturo whose true life story inspired the Off Broadway musical comedy revue, Til Divorce Do Us Part. After 34 years of marriage to a Broadway producer, Ruthe’s husband left her for a younger woman, and instead of having a nervous breakdown, undergoing plastic surgery or spending her time on the therapists couch, Ruthe, 64, quite literally “staged” her revenge. She VOWED never to lose her spirit and created this show, finding the humorous side of her situation. Mark Waldrop is the director with concept, lyrics and choreography by Ruthe Ponturo and music by John Thomas Fischer. Til Divorce Do Us Part is presented by Rosemary Kalikow, Leslie Simpson and Dean A. Carpenter. It opened February 18th and is playing an open run at DR2 Theatre in NYC. Featured in the cast are John Thomas Fischer, Martin Landry, Erin Maguire, Dana Wilson and Gretchen Wylder.
ROBIN: Thanks for chatting with us. What inspired you to create and stage Til Divorce Do Us Part? How long did it take you to create it, and how long after your divorce did you write it (or was it during your divorce proceeding that you worked on it)?
RUTHE: When my husband informed me that he “no longer wanted to be married” and that he was leaving me for a woman 22 years (but who was counting?) younger than me, I was blindsided and shocked, but the very same day, I stood in my hallway and vowed out loud NOT to lose my spirit. Very soon after that, I started hearing songs in my head. I had never written a song in my life, but I started writing down the lyrics and realized they were funny. A friend said I should do a cabaret show about divorce, and AHA, that was the start of the show. I asked John Thomas Fischer to collaborate with me, and we started writing songs. We would sit at the piano and laugh—great therapy for me. In six months, we had 10 songs and now we have 26. This all occurred during the divorce proceedings.
ROBIN: Tell us about the start of the production.
RUTHE: Our first production was in a small cabaret theatre. It was partly financed by women who were divorced themselves. One of my financial planners helped introduce me to them, and we all felt the message of the show would be inspiring, beneficial and fun for lots of other women. We got so much positive feedback from women (and men who loved them ) that luckily many people stepped up to invest and bring the show to a larger audience. This show does not end with the divorcee becoming happy again because she meets another man—our divorcees find happiness by discovering their strengths and talents. Our first song is “Better Mad Than Sad” but our last song is “Better Glad Than Mad.”
ROBIN: What feedback have you gotten on the show from women (and men)?
RUTHE: Women of all ages love it. We had a group of 20 somethings at the Triad and they related because as one of them said “everyone has been dumped by someone and nobody likes it.” It is funny to guys too- after all I am not an alcoholic, and I like plays by Tennessee Williams. You do not have to be divorced to like this show.
ROBIN: Do you envision the show as an empowering experience for theatre-goers?
RUTHE: Absolutely. It gives women license to laugh at the grisly details of divorce and to realize they are wonderful-with or without a man at their side. After all everyone who is divorced lived without their spouse BEFORE they met them.
ROBIN: If you did not have a theatre background or talent, what divorce coping mechanisms do you think you might have pursued?
RUTHE: I hope I would have had the same determination not to let the divorce define my happiness. Believe me, I loved being married. I had a great husband (until he wasn’t.) I have always had fantastic girlfriends, and they really helped me get through this. There is a song in the show “Best Friend Rag” about how friends help you get through the bad times.
ROBIN: Can you share some of the song titles?
RUTHE: “Divorce Dirge” (set to Chopin’s Funeral March) is about the details of the divorce process that can leave you screaming in frustration .All divorcees can relate.
“Think Twice” is about gay marriage—oops now you have to legally divorce.
“Bitter Pill” is about being left for a younger woman. I can relate!
“The Normal Rap” is about how you start to feel normal again-your life gets back on track. And as all the songs are different musical genres we had to have a rap!
ROBIN: Are there plans to take the show on the road?
RUTHE: We certainly hope to soon. I would love to see it playing everywhere.
ROBIN: You sold jewelry your husband had given you, including your wedding ring, to finance the production of the show. Do you anticipate earning back your investment, and how important is that to you?
RUTHE: Any investment is a risk, especially theatrical investments, but the reason behind putting Til Divorce on stage was not purely a means to a financial end, but a way of giving audiences a message of hope, joy, and self-discovery. It has the potential of paying back the investors, as I think there is a big audience out there for a show like this.
ROBIN: Do you envision writing other theatre pieces?
RUTHE: My co-writer and I are mulling over other show ideas. But first let’s get this one on.
ROBIN: What takeaway do you hope the audience will have from the show? Any words of wisdom to offer divorcees or separated women?
RUTHE: I want every person who sees the show to walk away laughing and with a song in their heart. I can only speak from my own experience, but I would tell newly separated women that it is good to get mad-sad is a part of it but limit your pity parties. Sad is non productive. Use the anger to get on with your life, but then let it go. Ultimately, your joy comes from you and not anyone else.
ROBIN: Anything else you’d like to share?
RUTHE: Come see the show and have a great time! And thanks, Robin, for the opportunity to tell my story.
The playing schedule for TIL DIVORCE DO US PART: THE MUSICAL is as follows: Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays at 7pm, Friday and Saturdays at 8PM, Sundays at 6PM with matinees on Saturday and Sunday at 3PM.
Buy Today & Save 30% on great seats!
Tickets just $52.50 (Reg $75) For performances now through May 4th
3 WAYS TO GET TICKETS:
– ONLINE:CLICK HERE and use code: TLLSP52
– BY PHONE: call 212-947-8844, and mention code: TLLSP52
– IN PERSON: Go to the DR2 Theatre at 103 East 15th Street at Union Square East and mention code: TLLSP52
Box Office Hrs: Monday – Friday 10am – 6pm
TICKET GIVEAWAY: TO ENTER TO WIN A PAIR OF TICKETS GOOD THROUGH APRIL 29TH, WRITE ROBIN@MOTHEHROODLATER.COM. PUT DIVORCE IN THE SUBJECT LINE, AND INDICATE WHY YOU’D LIKE TO SEE THE SHOW. WINNER WILL BE NOTIFIED VIA EMAIL.