"Call Me Adam" chats with Ruthe Ponturo, writer, lyricist, and choreographer of her new Off-Broadway musical Til Divorce Do Us Part, inspired by her own real-life divorce. Til Divorce Do Us Part plays an open-ended run at Daryl Roth Theatre's DR2 in New York City's Union Square (103 East 15th Street). Click here for tickets!
Til Divorce Do Us Part: The Musical is inspired by the true story of a Broadway producer’s wife who was suddenly jilted by her husband after decades of marriage. Determined to celebrate a new chapter in her life, she turns to her wickedly witty friends, who together sing, dance and laugh their way through the ripple effects of divorce and self-discovery in this musical comedy revue.
1. Your show, Til Divorce Do Us Part, based upon your real-life divorce, has just started it's open-ended Off-Broadway run at DR2 Theatre in NYC's Union Square. What excites you about having this show on its feet? I am thrilled to have my show debut Off-Broadway. It started at my piano—well actually with me singing a partial song in my shower—and the fact that it has morphed from that into first a cabaret show and now a full-fledged production is amazing to me. We have an incredible team of talented and hard working people who have made this possible and it great to be a part of this "show family."
2. What made now the right time to premiere this show? What made DR2 Theatre the right venue for Til Divorce Do Us Part? So many factors go into deciding when a show is ready to premiere. One reality in New York is there is a shortage of small theatres so you have to pounce when one becomes available. The DR2, which is a small, intimate house is perfect for our show because the audience can feel part of the journey that these women make.
3. What do you hope audiences come away with after seeing the show? I hope the audience is smiling and humming a tune when they leave the theatre. And that all the women feel good about themselves. Actually, Til Divorce Do Us Part speaks to anyone who has been dumped - straight, gay, married, or single.
4. How did you and John Thomas Fischer come to work together? What has been the best part about this collaboration? John Thomas Fischer and I had worked together on a workshop and then he was teaching (or doing his best to try) me piano. When I started hearing song fragments in my head (right after my husband walked out) I asked him to collaborate with me in writing some songs. We would sit at my piano and I would show him some lyrics I had written and he would think of some musical style the song should be. We laughed and laughed and believe me there were a lot of songs that didn’t make the cut! It was the best therapy ever for a broken heart and he and I have grown so close that I have a new best friend—gay boyfriends really help!
5. What is it like to watch this cast bring your story even more to life? Watching the show is almost surreal. On the one hand I am watching as one of the directors (I have choreographed it) so am I looking at arm heights and feet placement, etc. On the other hand part of it is very personal even though a lot has changed to make it about many people’s divorces or even break ups. I have heard the songs so many times and I am very objective now, but we do have an amazing cast that is great fun to watch.
Til Divorce Do Us Part B Roll filmed by Michael Stever
6. What did you learn about yourself from writing this show? I learned I could write songs. Who knew? I also learned I could pull a team together of amazing people and also I have learned when to let those people do their job and not worry about every tiny detail.
7. While going through your divorce, how did you find the strength to look at the comical side of things? My mother was an amazing woman. She taught me to stand up for myself. She was sweet and funny but had a spine of steel. Our family was always laughing about something. Both my parents always were so proud of me and I think that helped me when my ex left. I was just so determined NOT to lose the positive spirit I have always had. I literally started hearing song lyrics in my head and for some wonderful reason they were funny. Every tragedy has its odd funny side. You just have to find it.
8. What's the best advice you've ever received? My parents gave advice by example—they loved each other for 60 years and were always respectful and kind to each other and others. I try to remember that. Even on the subway!
9. If you could have any super power, which one would you choose? If I could have a superpower it would be to twitch my nose (like Bewitched) and poof I would be at the beach or in London and poof I could be home again. And this winter I would twitch my nose and poof all the snow would be GONE!
And I love your "Call Me Adam" title. TOO good!
Ruthe Ponturo has performed, choreographed and taught dance and musical theatre. She has choreographed regional productions of A Little Night Music, West Side Story and Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, among others. She served as the director of the youth department at City Studio Dance Theatre, where she helped scores of students learn to dance and more importantly to feel good about themselves. When she and her husband were living in St. Louis, Ruthe worked for Parkway Central High School‘s Grammy-winning music department and choreographed musicals including the national award winning show choir "Pizzazz." Ruthe is an active board member of Rosie’s Theater Kids and The Humane Society of New York. She received a BFA and MFA from University of Arizona in Theatre Arts.