Art Levine

Playwright, Lyricist, Composer, Arranger

4713 6th Street South
Arlington, VA 22204
703 486 0070

A graduate of Berklee College of Music, Art Levine worked for several years as a studio arranger in Nashville. In 1997 he won the International Zionist Songwriting Contest. His klezmer musical Called Up To Life: The Legends of the Baal Shem Tov received its first reading in 1999. Its first production in 2010 sold out seven out of nine performances. His second musical Festival of Lightshas yet to be produced. Art lives in Arlington, VA

Play Roster

Called Up to Life: The Legends of the Baal Shem Tov

Musical – score or pre-recorded background available.
Running time: 2 hours and fifteen minutes with intermission.
Unit set
Cast Requirements: 7 men 3 women. All actors are double cast except one.

Synopsis: The action takes place in a colony of havarim in Livorno, Italy. The time is a Friday evening in the 1780s—more than twenty years after the death of the Baal Shem Tov, aka the BSHT. A traveler appears and is invited to spend shabbos. It is soon discovered that this stranger is Rabbi Simon, former personal assistant to the Baal Shem Tov and reputed to know more stories of the BSHT than anyone else.

When asked to repeat stories of the BSHT, Rabbi Simon suddenly goes blank. The havarim repeat the stories they know, hoping to encourage Rabbi Simon. In repeating these stories, they outline the biographical history of the BSHT. They are unsuccessful in sparking Rabbi Simon’s memory. By the end of shabbos, they’ve recited all their stories and Rabbi Simon hasn’t said a thing. Humiliated, he leaves. But suddenly, he returns with a long forgotten tale so mysterious that even he has no idea of its meaning. At this point, the Rosh Yeshiva speaks up and offers an explanation. All matters of importance are resolved.

Festival of Lights: A Tale of Hanukah

Musical – score or pre-recorded background available.
Running time: 1 hour fifteen minutes
Unit set
Cast Requirements: 7 adults, (4 men, 3 women)
2 “teenagers,” 1 male, one female
10 boys and girls between ages 8-11 (The children are
non-speaking parts). All adult actors are double cast,
except one.

Synopsis: A building inspector, a government official, a lawyer and an entrepreneur are in a shuttered synagogue downtown, waiting for the last surviving members to take ownership of the property. Thanks to the lifetime memberships their grandparents secretly bought for them, the last surviving members turn out to be teenaged siblings, Josh and Marcy Edelman. Inspecting the synagogue, the lights go out. When the lights return, the adults are gone and the angel Sandalfon appears. Sandalfon, we learn, is the angel charged with escorting Jewish prayers to heaven. It was his job to escort a minyan of prayers from this synagogue. But the congregation never mustered that last minyan and they disbanded, leaving Sandalfon trapped in the building.

He cannot leave until he escorts a minyan of prayers. Through Sandalfon, the kids have a chance to “see” their ancestors. As each ancestor does a good deed or utters a hope or prayer, the personification of that hope or prayer materializes. One by one the ancestors tell their stories and Josh and Marcy realize they are now owners of the synagogue in more ways than one. One by one the personifications appear and joyfully Sandalfon realizes he finally has a full minyan of prayers to escort. Minyan in tow, he leaves. The lights go back on and the adults reappear. Testing the veracity of Sandalfon’s story, the kids find a memento. The teenagers make a decision to carry on the work of their ancestors in bettering the world.


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