Funny, intelligent, and heartbreaking, HELEN ON 86TH ST. is the family musical that will launch a thousand smiles.
— Dallas Hudgens, Writer
The show is a total charmer. And it’s beautiful how out of such a humble story, the themes resonate—-like ripples in a pool. Very inspiring.
— Andy Monroe, Award-winning composer
I was blown-away by the adaptation of my story, Helen on 86th Street. Nicole Kempskie and Robby Stamper have created a magical theater experience the entire family can enjoy. Forget musicals that rely on special effects and overblown, flashy production values for their drama and content, HELEN ON 86TH ST. represents a new direction in musical theater, one that celebrates substance over glitz and has a direct and emotional connection with its audience. This refreshing and original production delivers catchy music, intelligent lyrics and a superbly talented cast. Rediscover your sense of wonderment with this little musical with a big heart.
— Wendi Kaufman, Helen on 86th St. author
The show was an utter delight, we ALL enjoyed it immensely & were very impressed by what a fantastic job you did on all accounts. Such wonderful performances from your talented actors, the music was so full and satisfying and the story unfolded so nicely, with depth but at a delightfully brisk pace.
— Tracy Parks, playwright
Simply stated, I LOVED this show. Clever, funny, and smart, smart, smart. And I have to honestly say that it has been a long time since I was so moved by a show. FULL of heart.
— Dan Bolton, actor
They called it ‘a little musical with a lot of heart’ and they are so right…a bunch of young, amazing little artists with passion take you on a journey that is sentimental, real, and charming as charming can be. I ended up having a really fun night at this very simple production WITH a lot of heart!
— Luis Salgado, performer and choreographer (On Your Feet, In The Heights, Women on a Verge)
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The production, which concludes this Sunday at American Theatre of Actors, is a joy to watch. The story is simple but well represented — the music is fun and the lyrics are sophisticated and weave Greek myth sensibilities with contemporary perspective seamlessly.

But perhaps the best part of the show is how it is a solid vehicle for young actresses… I can’t imagine many young female performers who wouldn’t want to be in something like HELEN ON 86TH ST.— and it was great to see a piece that provides those roles in a smart, charming package.
— Kimberly Lew, Theater Blogger
We just loved HELEN ON 86TH ST., a first-rate musical equal to Annie. The story is absolutely charming, the music and lyrics are wonderful, and the cast is terrific. A very enjoyable experience that was also heightened by the intimacy of a small theater. Our “Hats Off” to the talents of Nicole Kempskie and Robby Stamper...you put on quite a show! We certainly hope “Helen” takes off so we can see it again.
I was literally humming songs from HELEN this morning. Dave and I talked about the story, the funny, touching and believable performances by the actors, the music, the beautiful choreography practically all the way home on our bus ride. We had such an amazing time. The final song had all three of us in tears - it’s such a beautiful message - eloquently worded and beautifully scored.
All three kids — mine & Summer’s friend — loved it, and my husband John. You KNOW you have a success on your hands if you captured his attention — He’s not a musical theater guy (I had to tie him to his seat at Chicago, just to give you a sense of how bad it is — who doesn’t like Chicago?) — but he loved Sunday and said he found himself not wanting to miss a minute of it.
Every person that I have brought to this show has absolutely loved it. Yesterday, my Mom, Mom in Law, my friend and I were all in tears after the show - we all loved it so much! I can’t get the songs out of my head - even when I am listening to other songs on my IPod!
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The show was absolutely delightful! Having been musical theater actors and aficionados for many years, we’re some of the toughest theater critics around. The book was fresh and original, which is a rarity these days. The show was fun and engaging from start to finish with many heart-warming moments. The music and lyrics were beautiful and poignant. It was extremely well cast and well acted. We would definitely recommend it to our friends, especially those with children. Sophia was on the edge of her seat the entire time, and has been singing songs from the show all day.
I loved HELEN ON 86TH ST. The production stayed true to Wendi Kaufman’s original story in The New Yorker, making it the perfect combination of art and entertainment: a moving and meaningful story told by talented young actors. Best of all, it captivated the whole family, from the 10-year-old son to the 40-something husband. I can’t wait to be able to say, ‘I remember when it was a small hopeful venue. Now look at it!’
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I didn’t want to gush last night, but now I do want to congratulate you on your wonderful achievement. The show is just fantastic. We laughed, we cried. The songs were lovely. The cast was sensational. The numbers were great. I don’t know how many ways to say it! The show is terrific, and I hope it has a long and happy life. I can’t wait to see what happens to it next!!! Who wouldn’t want to produce such a fun show??!!
OMG....what a wonderful new show! Spanakopita, moussaka and gyros to Nicole Kempskie, Robby Stamper, and the wonderful actors for presenting a two hour show that was sheer pleasure to watch. I heard laughter, saw members of the audience shedding tears and giving a standing ovation. Nicole wrote and directed a beautiful play. Robby’s music and singing was great. And, kudos to the entire cast for the beautiful voices, dancing and acting. The sets, choreography and costumes were perfect for a show that has only been in development for ten months and had less than two weeks in preparation for its stage premiere.
I rarely see musicals and am consistently guilty of focusing on music over lyric, but I made a conscious effort to listen to the lyrics and was extremely impressed with how well they carried the story (now I get what Roma Torre is talking about!). The performers were delightful—that Samantha is a force of nature, Vita a winning personality and voice, and Maxine had such amusing moxie; loved the mom and Ms. Dodd. I could go on but bottom line, just want to say molto, molto congrats.
EVERYthing was wonderful. The music, the lyrics, the script, the set, the acting THE VOICES!!!! And most important, the takeaway that Vita got from the whole ordeal, which speaks to children of ALL ages. It surely resonated with me. I really hope it goes to the next stage because I’d like to see it again. It was fun but I LOVED the story it told, the encouragement that came through without beating you over the head with the message.
We loved the show! In fact, I saw 3 productions over the past 3 evenings and HELEN ON 86TH ST. was by far the best show! It was refreshing, we thoroughly enjoyed the original score and the kids (& adults) were fabulous! I can really see the show progressing into something bigger and Aidan and I will be able to say we saw the original performance.
I can’t tell you how glad I am that Kathy and I came in for the show last night. We were so blown away by the talent in this show. I am especially in love with Vita and her mom. I was wrapped around their fingers from the first second. BRAVO to all!