Donny Osmond (currently starring in Beauty and the Beast
), Euan Morton (Taboo
), Liz McCartney (Mamma Mia, Taboo
), Merle Dandridge (Tarzan, Jesus Christ Superstar
), Bon Jovi’s David Bryan, Christine Pedi (Forbidden Broadway
), and KENiMATTix (world renowned acrobats Ken Berkeley and Matthew Cusick) will gather for the sixth annual gala benefit for Only Make Believe
, hosted by Kathie Lee Gifford, on Monday, November 6 at 7:30 p.m. at the Hudson Theatre at the Millennium Hotel (145 West 44th Street). The event will be directed by Joe DiPietro, with musical direction by Jason Debord.
The evening will showcase Broadway’s brightest stars as they unite in a benefit performance on behalf of Only Make Believe
, a charity that brings the magic of theater to chronically-ill children. Jeremy Gilley, founder of the international non-profit peace organization Peace One Day, will receive the 2006 James Hammerstein Award for his outstanding dedication to children in need.
Only Make Believe
is dedicated to the principle that freeing a child’s creative spirit is a valuable part of the healing process. With a professional troupe of multi-racial, multi-ethnic actors, Only Make Believe
actively engages the children in performance, treating them as collaborators in a theatrical experience. This is the key to the success of Only Make Believe
: Each child takes an active part in a cycle of fantastic and imaginative adventures.
Each Only Make Believe
cycle consists of six one-hour workshops. The actors arrive at the facility armed with a trunk load of colorful costumes, props and backdrops, prepared to lead the children on an exciting theatrical journey. The stories are scripted in such a way as to help the children deal with their fears and problems, but are acted out with plenty of room for improvisation to encourage their participation and keep the experience fresh and fun. At the end of the cycle, the trunk is left behind as a gift to the facility, encouraging play even after the Only Make Believe
sessions are complete.
The Only Make Believe
program debuted in October 1999 at NYU Hospital Center’s Rusk Institute of Rehabilitation Medicine Pediatric Unit as a project of the James and Dena Hammerstein Foundation. Since then, the workshops have been performed in 23 facilities throughout New York City. Dena Hammerstein established Only Make Believe
in memory of her husband, James (son of Oscar Hammerstein), his dedication to the theater, and her passionate love for children in need. The concept of Only Make Believe
developed out of Dena’s desire to introduce disadvantaged children living with chronic illnesses and disabilities to the magical world of theater. Since trips to the theater would be too overwhelming for many of the children, Dena decided to bring the theater to them, helping to create a unique version of live theater in which each child plays an integral part.
The one-night-only benefit for Only Make Believe
will take place on Monday, November 6 at 7:30 p.m
. at the Hudson Theatre at the Millennium Hotel
(145 West 44th Street). Tickets range from $25 to $300. Call 646-336-1500 for more information or to purchase tickets. www.onlymakebelieve.org