About Only Make Believe

Only Make Believe is a non-profit organization that creates and performs interactive theatre for children in hospitals and care facilities. We are dedicated to the principle that freeing a child’s imagination is a valuable part of the healing process.

Our vision is to bring joy and inspiration to as many chronically ill children as possible, across the United States and around the world.

Only Make Believe is located in both in New York City and Washington D.C. and performs in more than 55 sites for more than 5,000 children each year.


The Only Make Believe program debuted in October 1999 at Rusk Institute’s Pediatric Unit, NYU Langone Medical Center, as a project of The James and Dena Hammerstein Foundation. Dena Hammerstein established Only Make Believe in memory of her husband James (son of Oscar Hammerstein), for his dedication to the theater and her own passionate love for children in need.

The concept of Only Make Believe developed out of Dena’s desire to introduce children living with chronic illnesses and disabilities to the magical world of theater. Since trips to the theater proved to 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 in the production.  With support and kindness from our supporters, Dena’s dream, in honor of her husband’s legacy, is now bringing live theatre to children in hospitals and care facilities in both New York and Washington D.C.