The cast of Elijah’s Cup rehearses over Zoom.
The cast of Elijah’s Cup rehearses over Zoom.

Elijah’s Cup lends itself to the Zoom format because the whole thing takes place in one scene around a dinner table,” Udi Kapen said.

Last year at Passover, Udi Kapen was thinking about ideas for a script to be submitted in participation with a playwriting group he had joined. As the holiday also was on his mind, Kapen imagined a seder plotline.

The sometime writer came up with a seriocomedy based on Elijah and what it would be like if Elijah introduced himself at the family’s front door. Beyond the group, he shared his idea with members of B’nai Israel Synagogue in West Bloomfield, and they decided to host a Zoom presentation with Kapen as producer/director.

Kapen, a pediatrician by vocation and a community theater participant by avocation, brings considerable performance experience to Elijah’s Cup, which will be debuted at 8:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 30.

“It’s a short play about a family sitting down to a seder,” Kapen said. “The teenage son is moody and not into it at all. His mother and grandfather are going off on tangents.

Udi Kapen
Udi Kapen

“There is a message in the show that I hope comes through.” — Dr. Udi Kapen

“It’s not going the way the father wants it. It’s his favorite holiday, and he wants to do everything by the book, the Haggadah, and the action takes off after the father opens the door because there is Elijah.”

Appearing in the cast are Kapen as the father, Stacy Gittleman as the mother, Toby Gittleman as the son, Lou Severinsky as the grandfather, Mechelle Bernard as Officer Martin and Mark Robbins as Elijah.

“Most of the cast I’ve worked with before in community theater productions,” Kapen, 52, said. “I knew they had some background in theater, and I knew what they could do. I made an email blast to the congregation saying that this was coming up, and anybody interested should contact me.”

Acting Background

Kapen, interested in theater since school days in West Virginia and later Andover High School here, put theater on hold during medical studies at the University of Michigan and his residency. While raising two daughters, he won parts with the Bloomfield Players and the Village Players of Birmingham.

Leading roles placed him in The Music Man, Oklahoma and Oliver! among some 30 productions. While he never had singing lessons, many directors felt comfortable choosing him for parts that featured him in song.

During the pandemic, Kapen has immersed himself in the Zoom platform with playwriting experiences, auditions and rehearsals.

“I belong to Playwrights@Work through the Village Players,” Kapen said. “Playwriting has really filled a void for me during this time that I haven’t been able to act on stage. It’s a wonderful creative outlet, allowing me to express thoughts, feelings, even opinions.

“I’ve gotten to write semi-autobiographical plays and plays about things I love, like country music and Star Trek. It’s an incredibly fulfilling feeling to hear my words spoken and performed by others.

Elijah’s Cup lends itself to the Zoom format because the whole thing takes place in one scene around a dinner table.”

While offstage, Kapen still is a bit of a performer. To ease the tensions of his young patients, he juggles three small rubber balls kept in his lab coat pocket.

“The Passover play is a comedy, so I want people to be entertained,” he said. “But there is a message in the show that I hope comes through. It’s about the importance of family and realizing the things in life that are important can be right there in front of us but may not be recognized unless we know to take a beat and look for them.”

Details: 

Elijah’s Cup can be seen at 8:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 30, by going to bnaiisraelwb.org.

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