DEVELOPMENT & PRODUCTION HISTORY
The full-length production of Helen on 86th St. went into development in May of 2010 and had its premiere (produced by us, with the help of 217 Kickstarter backers) at the American Theater of Actors in April of 2011. The school edition of Helen was published by Playscripts, Inc. in March of 2012 and has been performed in schools and theater programs across the country and internationally.
It's was a wild ride, but we lived to tell the tale.
Here's how we did it. (Oh, and for the nitty-gritty details, check out the blog.)
HELEN ON 86TH ST. TIMELINE
MUSIC WORKSHOP #1: MAY 30, 2010
EMMA SINGS THE VITA MUSIC! One of my most upstanding theatre students, Emma Young, graciously offered her talents to sing through the Vita music for us. Emma has a fantastic range with no noticeable break (I'm very jealous) so she was able to sail through the beautifully complex music that Robby has written. And most important, she brought such heart and emotion to the words. It was such a memorable day for us.
READING #1: JUNE 6, 2010
FIRST READING! On Sunday, June 6th (my birthday), I gathered 15 of my friends together to do the first reading of the play. While some of them weren't actors, and we were playing rough demos of the music from my ipod speakers, Robby and I were able to get a good sense of how the script reads. And it was a perfect way to celebrate my birthday - sharing this special endeavor with the people I love most. Many thanks to the following friends for participating: Tracy Bersley, Drew Eberhardy, Alicia House, Eevin Hartsough, Melissa Hardy, Robby Stamper, Janice Fuld, Jen Clarke, Elijah Sivin, Joy Rodriguez, Sharon Williams, Chris Heller, Amy White Graves, Doug Van Horn and Rebekah Fisk.
MUSIC WORKSHOP #2: JUNE 19, 2010
TIME TO HEAR THE MUSIC! Robby and I will be working with a some of my Brooklyn Children's Theatre students, as well as some musical theatre veterans to hear the music and adjust keys.
FIRST DEVELOPMENTAL READING: SEPTEMBER 23, 2010
On September 23rd we presented "A Taste of Helen on 86th St., " a one-hour cut of the musical with Erica Schroeder (Shout! The Mod Musical, Jane Eyre), Brian Russell (The Farnsworth Invention, The Caine Mutiny Court-Martial, A Perfect Crime), John Deyle (Urinetown, Footloose, Camelot, Annie), Lance Olds (Footloose, Carnival, Naked Boys Singing), Taylor Bera (Little House on the Prairie: The Musical), and an incredibly talented ensemble of Broadway kids at MTC Studios.
FIRST FULL TABLE READ: NOVEMBER 14, 2010
Our first full reading took place on November 14th at the Snapple Theatre Center. This was the first time that Robby and I had the opportunity to hear the musical in its entirety, try out some re-writes and changes, and make any final edits before our full Equity Staged Reading in January of 2011.
The cast was as follows:
Taylor Leigh Bera, Erica Schroeder, Brian Russell, Jacob Ming-Trent, Kevin Pariseau, Maggie Bera, Martine Bowman, Missy Dreier, Mia Fitzgibbon, Izzy Hanson-Johnston, Sean Gilbert, Greg Ippolito, Aurielle Kaminski, Shereen Pimentel, Danielle Leigh Rosenthal, Kaylie Rubinaccio, Sofia Thompson, Emma Young and Amanda Yuan
EQUITY READING: JANUARY 17, 2011
Our full-length Equity reading took place on January 17th at 1pm and 4pm at Ripley Grier Studios.
Participating in this reading was:
*Nick Wyman (10 Broadway Shows, President of Actors' Equity!), *Taylor Leigh Bera (Little House of the Prairie, National Tour), *Erica Schroeder (Jane Eyre, Shout! The Mod Musical), *Kevin Pariseau (Legally Blonde), Maggie Bera, Martine Bowman, Missy Dreier, Mia Fitzgibbon, *Izzy Hanson-Johnston, *Sean Gilbert, Greg Ippolito, Aurielle Kaminski, *Shereen Pimentel, *Kaylie Rubinaccio, Sofia Thompson, Danielle Leigh Rosenthal, Emma Young and Amanda Yuan with Robby Stamper (Piano) & Clarice Mazanec (Cello)
BOSTON WORKSHOP: FEBRUARY 12, 2011
We hit the road and headed to Wheelock Family Theatre in Boston (where Nicole got her Equity card as an actress) on February 12th to work on Helen material with the talented young performers there!
The following performers participated: Ellis Gage, Andrew Barbato, Russell Garrett, Grace Brakeman, Audree Hedequist, Jessica Dagg, Whitney Sandford, Emily Sheeran, Gracie Goddard, Kristina Ayanian, Joanna Rosen, Lexi Ryan and Kharima Muhammed.
HELEN ON 86TH ST. EQUITY SHOWCASE: April 28-May 8, 2011
The full-length version of Helen on 86th St. premiered at the American Theatre of Actors (Chernuchin Theatre), April 28, 2011 - May 8, 2011. Click here to see the full list of cast and creatives.
HELEN ON 86TH ST. SCHOOL EDITION: October 19, 2011
Our one-hour school edition of Helen on 86th St. went into development in October with a workshop and reading starring our spring 2011 cast of Helen kids. It was published and became available to license in the spring of 2012 through Playscripts, Inc.
HELEN JUNIOR WORKSHOP CAST: *Taylor Leigh Bera, Drew Beasley, Maggie Bera, Martine Bowman, Missy Dreier, Mia Fitzgibbon, *Izzy Hanson-Johnston, *Sean Gilbert, Leah Greenhaus, Greg Ippolito, Aurielle Kaminski, *Shereen Pimentel, *Kaylie Rubinaccio, Danielle Leigh Rosenthal, Emma Young and Amanda Yuan
*Appearing courtesy of Actors' Equity Association