I got my start in musical theater and spent many happy years performing at the Helen Hayes Youth Theatre. It all started when Danielle Rudess met me at a piano recital where I sang a song from Phantom of the Opera. She recruited me on the spot. I showed up in my basketball uniform and was cast as Jesus in Godspell. The rest is history :) – Skylar Astin: Broadway, Television and Film star

Helen Hayes Youth Theater is the absolute best. The fun, the quality of the training, the professionalism and the respect shown to the kids by Danielle and her amazing staff is unparalleled. Sophie’s love of theater began at HHYT at age 4 and by age 6 she was performing in a Broadway showthanks to her experiences and training she began at the HHYT. – Chavie Knapp: mother of Sophie (performer in Broadway’s ONCE)

The Helen Hayes Youth Theater is an incredible place to develop your skills, embrace your creativity and have a blast with other passionate young performers. HHYT was crucial in my personal growth and has had a lasting effect on me. – Michael Mittman: Film, Television & Theater actor, Graduate of NYC Tisch with a BFA in Drama

I couldn’t think of a better place to have spent my formative years as a performer. HHYT nurtured and challenged me, gave me a solid foundation of confidence in my skills, and provided a necessary community of supporters. – Adam Chanler-Berat: Broadway actor. Star of Broadway’s “Next to Normal” and “Peter and the Starcatcher”

I’ve experienced the Helen Hayes Youth Theater as a parent and as a director. It is a unique organization which changes lives on a daily basis. As a parent, HHYT gave my daughter an invaluable safe place to share her love of theater with other like-minded kids. Her experiences in rehearsals and shows were always wonderful, and she formed friendships there that have lasted her whole life. For me, as a director, working with the children (and the staff) of HHYT was among the most joyous experiences of my life, professional or otherwise. Neither my daughter nor I would be the people we are today without it. – Jim Fyfe: CBS Late Show with Stephen Colbert, Producer, Broadway actor and HHYT director.

The time that my son spends auditioning, rehearsing and performing with the Helen Hayes Youth Theatre has been as important to his development and growth as the time he spends at school. At HHYT, he connects with the ideals of teamwork, preparation, reliability and public speaking. The pride I feel in seeing my son on stage is only secondary to the pride he feels and continues to feel long after the curtain has come down. – Katie Rosman: columnist, New York Times Styles Section columnist

The Helen Hayes Youth Theater was invaluable not only to our success in musical theatre, but our development as competent professionals. We entered the program as shy, young adults and through the program’s nurturing environment, emerged as confident actors ready to embrace both the joy of theatre and the power of working with an ensemble. The program gave us a chance to work on material/shows that constantly challenged us as performers and exposed us to top rate creative teams that had hands-on, professional experience in musical theatre. Many of these directors, along with many of our fellow students in the program, have gone on to have very successful careers on Broadway/Film/TV and continue to be a wonderful support network for us, even today! Whether you are a beginner or looking to pursue this professionally, we can’t recommend this program enough! – Cristina and Robert Farruggia: performers, writers and composers of original musicals

What a treasure HHYT is for our family! Danielle, you have created a terrific place for my kids to discover new skills and develop confidence. I am always proud to see them on stage, but what’s more important to me is how they look forward to each rehearsal. They are learning the process and enjoying it, not just pushing toward the final show. Kids here make new friends, and they learn a new appreciation for the successes and disappointments of life: how to manage expectations and how to strive hard for a goal. I know they will never forget their time with your fantastic staff, steeped in the music and movement that has now become part of who they are. Thank you so much. – K.S.: parent

Helen Hayes was the place where I learned the most about theatre, made the best friends, and was in the most kick-ass productions I’ve ever been lucky to be a part of. If it weren’t for my years there, I’d never have had the courage to make a living in theatre. – Bryan Jager: directing student at Manhattan Marymount College and Disney World employee

I grew up at Helen Hayes Youth Theater. It taught me things about myself and life a traditional education cannot teach. Most importantly, it gave me a family that I was able to come home to show after show after show. – Kate Yeager: NYU student, recording artist

Being a member of Helen Hayes Youth Theatre for 6 years has truly changed my life. Danielle Rudess and the entire staff at HHYT encourage their students to be themselves, become a family, and grow as performers. I have made life-long friends during my time with the youth theatre as well as learned an immense amount of knowledge about theatre and about life. I have had some of the greatest experiences of my life at HHYT, and i can’t thank everyone in the company enough for everything they have taught me. – Sophie Goldstein: High School senior

“My daughter, Sophie, has had the great pleasure of being part of the Helen Hayes Youth Theater Family for over 6 years. Watching the wonderful productions they perform is just a part of what they do. They foster community, confidence, respect and love from their students and their families. My daughter goes off to college this year. I thank HHYT for the immense entertainment and for being such an important part of all our lives ” – Hillary Goldstein: Parent

My Facebook, Twitter and Instagram is often filled with photos of Helen Hayes Youth Theatre Alumnae, as my children’s’ friends (who span 17-28 years of age) head out to support and watch their friends perform in various Broadway, Off Broadway and regional performances. As I skim through these pics I’m struck with what a profound effect the Helen Hayes Youth Theatre had on the lives of my children and their friends. To say that the HHYT had an effect on my kids and our family is such an understatement! They fell in love with performing on stage through this amazing program and all 3 went on to pursue career in theatre that include Broadway, TV and film credits. The friends that they made at the HHYT are among their closest friends and there is nothing more wonderful than seeing these kids thrive as young adults as a result of the skills and passion they developed through this incredible program. – Ivy Goldstein: Mother of performers: Josh Page, Zach Page and Kylie Liya Page

HHYT is more than a wonderfully creative theatre company where very talented youth perform in a warm, nurturing and exceptionally professional theatrical environment. The directors, producers, choreographers, staff and actors at HHYT are a family that work together to perform the highest quality shows. HHYT, is a Hudson Valley gem!

– RK

My daughter has been involved with HHYT since she was 9 yrs. old. Her natural talent was nurtured and given the chance to take wings. Though a new college student, she actually returned this summer to work at HHYT with budding young performers at her home away from home….the love came full circle!!

– H. Quinn

HHYT was a formative experience for me. I learned skills and confidence that have followed me not just in my performing career but my day to day life. It gave me the space to be myself, to be part of a team, to take on responsibility, and have fun. Theater is a team sport and you quickly realize that you are a part of something larger than yourself. HHYT taught me to be a person who balances passion for performance with compassion for others. – Eliza Simpson: Actress. Star of off-Broadway hit, The Woodsman