Arts & Entertainment

Millburn 5th Grader Makes NYC Theatre Debut in “Leaving Home”

Ben Levine, Millburn 5th Grader Credits: Natalie Hiott-Levine
(R to L) Andrew (Ben Levine) tries to understand why older brother Joey (Alex Carmine) is “Leaving Home.” Credits: Natalie Hiott-Levine
As their dad Stan (Dean Waters) looks on, Joey (Alex Carmine) and Andrew (Ben Levine) say their final goodbye. Credits: Natalie Hiott-Levine

MILLBURN, NJ - Ben Levine, a rising Millburn fifth grader, made his New York City theatrical debut last weekend, starring with accomplished actors Alex Carmine, Ellen Karis, and Dean Waters in “Leaving Home,” an original play written and directed by Jon Kakaley.  The opening scene of a longer production, “Leaving Home” opened on Saturday night, July 15, to a sold-out audience as part of the Short Play Lab (SPL) of the Midtown International Theatre Festival (MITF) at the Workshop Theatre’s Jewel Box Theatre.  “Leaving Home” is the story of “Joey” portrayed by Alex Carmine, who is leaving his Southern Christian home to follow his dream of acting in New York City much to the dismay of his parents “Stan” (Dean Waters) and “Rachel” (Ellen Karis), and younger brother “Andrew,” portrayed by Levine.  Director Jon Kakaley said of Levine, “It is not easy to find young actors who have the ability to stand up on a stage and perform well under pressure. . . . I'm happy to say that I've found a wonderful actor in Ben Levine.”  

After the show’s second and final performance at MITF on Sunday evening, it was announced that “Leaving Home” was the winner of the MITF:  Summer 2017 SPL “Most Popular Play” award.  The hope is that this honor will translate into the financing needed to fund the play’s full-length production.  

Levine trains in drama, musical theatre and voice at the Paper Mill Playhouse Theatre School and will join the Paper Mill’s Children’s Theatre on Tour Company this fall.  Emily Bauer of Acting with Emily, where he also takes acting lessons, has also been instrumental in helping to mold and prepare Ben as a young actor.  

Look for Levine's television debut this fall on the Travel Channel’s “Mysteries at the Museum” when he will be featured in two episodes.  Levine is also portraying Aladdin and a Camper in New Horizons Day Camp’s original summer production “Lost in Disney” this week.  When he’s not acting, Levine studies piano and singing at So.i.Heard House of Music and enjoys scouting, baseball, reading, video games, and hanging out with friends and his brothers.  

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