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HELEN ON 86th STREET Debuts At ATA 4/28


Helen on 86th Street, a new full-length family musical adapted from Wendi Kaufman's much loved 1997 New Yorker short story with book and lyrics by Nicole Kempskie and music by Robby Stamper, will make its World Premiere at the American Theatre of Actors/Chernuchin Theatre, 314 West 54th Street, NYC, on April 28th at 7:30 PM and continue its limited engagement through May 8th, 2011.

Based on a story that for the past decade has been taught in 10,000 high school classrooms across the country, the musical follows Vita Calista, a vibrant and unique 12-year old girl, as she learns to cope with an absent father, a single mother, a disappointing role in the school production of The Trojan Horse, and the daily pressures of a tween growing up in New York City. It's a story of loss, longing and acceptance, as seen through the eyes of a young girl wise beyond her years, which like the epic Greek stories it interweaves, carries a message of hope and redemption that will resonate with people of all ages.

Directed by Nicole Kempskie, the cast of 19 includes 15 actors under the age of 16, many with impressive Broadway credits: Meredith Inglesby (BEAUTY AND THE BEAST, ON THE RECORD, THE LITTLE MERMAID), Kathryn Markey (3 FROM BROOKLYN, Toyota Comedy Festival), Taylor Leigh Bera (National Tour of LITTLE HOUSE ON THE PRAIRIE), Kevin Pariseau (LEGALLY BLONDE), Izzy Hanson Johnston (Billy Elliot), Sean Gilbert (LES MISERABLES), Shereen Pimentel (THE LION KING), Kaylie Rubinaccio (LES MISERABLES), Leah Greenhaus (SHREK), Missy Dreier, Aurielle Kaminski, Emma Young, Danielle Leigh Rosenthal, Maggie Bera, Greg Ippolito, Martine Bowman, Amanda Yuan, Mia Fitzgibbon and Clarice Mazanec.

NICOLE KEMPSKIE (Book & Lyrics, Director) began her theatrical career as a child actor and has worked extensively as an actor, director, choreographer, writer, theatre educator, media educator and consultant. She has performed at Trinity Rep, the Huntington Theatre, Lyric Stage, the Atlantic, the Lucille Lortel, Wheelock Family Theatre, Speakeasy Stage Company, American Stage Festival, Jewish Theatre of New England, Foothills Theatre, and the Publick Theatre (ME). She was the resident children's theatre director for three summers at North Shore Music Theatre (DEAR EDWINA, RAPUNZEL, YOU'RE A GOOD MAN CHARLIE BROWN), and has directed and choreographed over twenty-five musicals and straight plays both for professionals and young performers. She was Associate Choreographer for TheatreworksUSA's MAX AND RUBY. Since 2001, Nicole has been a teaching artist at BAM, TADA, Broadway Classroom, Arts Connection, the Broadway Teacher's Lab, ProMusica, Broadway Buddies, Music Theatre International, BAX and others, and in 2003, she co-founded Brooklyn Children's Theatre in Park Slope, Brooklyn, which now serves over 170 children and produces twelve original children's musicals each year (many of which she writes with Robby). She is currently the Manager of School and Family Programs at the Paley Center for Media and an adjunct professor for City College's Educational Theatre program.

ROBBY STAMPER (Music, Music Director) is an alumni of the Tony award-winning BMI Musical Theater Workshop, a 2008-2009 Dramatist Guild Fellow (for SISTER AIMEE with lyricist/librettist Andrea Frierson), as well as the winner of the York Theatre Company's 2007 NEO (New, Emerging and Outstanding) Award for excellence in composition. He has composed the music for the four children's musicals in collaboration with Nicole: WHERE'S MISS BUTTERCUP?, THE ELEPHANT PRINCE, THE PRINCELY FROG and BUGTOWN, all of which were produced by Brooklyn Children's Theatre and in schools throughout New York City. In addition, he wrote the music for PICTURE PERFECT and DREAM TEEN (book and lyrics by AriAnna Rose), both produced at The York Theater in NYC. Robby has been a musical director, composer and performer with Walt Disney Entertainment since 1991 and most recently served as musical director for Disney Theatrical's Cub School, preparing young performers for roles in THE LION KING and MARY POPPINS on Broadway. He currently serves as a Musical Theater Consultant in collaboration with MTI, Broadway Jr., and Arts Connection, and has worked on GUYS AND DOLLS Jr., ANNIE Jr., SEUSSICAL Jr., and WILLY WONKA Jr. among others. He recently contributed his composition "The Change is Strange" to TADA Youth Ensemble's production of EVERYTHING ABOUT A FAMILY (ALMOST).

Author WENDI KAUFMAN's fiction has appeared in The New Yorker, Fiction, Other Voices, New York Stories and other literary journals. She is a winner of a Mary Roberts Rhinehart Award for short fiction and a Breadloaf Writer's Conference Scholar in Fiction. She is a frequent contributor and reviewer for The Washington Post and is currently finishing Life Above Sea Level, her first collection of stories.

Choreographer Valerie Salgado has worked as assistant to choreographer, Joshua Bergasse; as assistant choreographer for BC/EFA's Gypsy of the Year opening number; associate choreographer for BRIGHT LIGHTS BIG CITY; has assisted with pre-production for numerous regional shows, and assisted with Bergasse's Musical Theater Performance Project. As a choreographer, Valerie has had her work shown at Dance Theatre Workshop with Motion Dance + Theatre, Band of Gypsies Choreographer Showcase, New Dance Group, MMAC, Steps, and at the JCC for a breast cancer benefit concert titled: Dancers Who Care Present "Ruach" the Energy of Life. This spring she will be collaborating with the band, Ray Soriano and the Eclectics, to create a new work for Band of Gypsies II.

Robby Stamper is also Music Director/Pianist with Clarice Mazanec on cello. Set and Lighting Design is by Ji-Youn Chang, with Costume Design by Cat Fisher, Sound by Jason Hurley, with Joseph Bera and Melissa Hardy as Associate Producers and Alicia Dhyana House as Asssociate Director.

The performance schedule for Helen on 86th Street, beginning April 28th, will be Thursday through Saturday at 7:30 PM with 3 PM matinees on Saturday and Sunday with an additional performance on Wednesday, May 4th at 7:30 PM.

For more info on the new family musical visit

Tickets for Helen on 86th Street at $18 are available at www.

Helen on 86th Street The World Premiere of a new full-length family musical adapted from Wendi Kaufman's much loved 1997 New Yorker short story with book and lyrics by Nicole Kempskie and music by Robby Stamper. American Theatre of Actors/Chernuchin Theatre, 314 West 54th Street, NYC Opens April 28th @ 7:30 thru May 8th, 2011. Performances: Thursday to Saturday @ 7:30 PM with 3 PM matinees Saturdays and Sundays, additional performances on Wednesday, May 4th @ 7:30 PM. All seats $18 via
For info on the new musical visit

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