Only Make Believe (OMB) is a non-profit organization that creates and performs interactive theatre for children in hospitals, care facilities and special education programs throughout the New York and Washington DC metropolitan areas, free of charge to every site, family, and child. 

OMB is dedicated to the principle that engaging a child’s imagination is a valuable part of healing and learning. Therefore every child in our audience takes an active part in creating a world of fantasy and fun in order to transcend the boundaries of hospital walls. 


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 theater legend 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.

The first OMB shows took place  at the Rusk Institute’s Pediatric Unit at NYU Langone Medical Center and this past year were performed at 45 facilities/units in the New York metro area as well as 15 in and around Washington D.C. In all, more than 77,188 children have starred in over 5,000 shows.