EAST HARLEM, Manhattan (PIX11) — An off-Broadway production in New York City is celebrating 40 years this week. It’s the longest-running Black off-Broadway musical theater production. The latest version, which features a Harlem mother and daughter, opens this Friday night at El Museo’s El Teatro in East Harlem and runs for three weeks. 

Vy Higginsen and her daughter Ahmaya Knoelle are forces on stage and in their Harlem community. They are using their platform to help thousands of young people in New York City find their voices through music and performance.

Ahmaya Knoelle is the director of “Mama, I Want to Sing!” It first burst onto the stage on March 23, 1983. The creators are her mom, Vy Higginsen, and Higginsen’s husband, Ken Wydro. The couple put their entire life savings into making the musical at the famous Heckscher Theatre, now known as El Museo’s El Teatro in East Harlem. 

The story is based on the life of Higginsen’s sister, singer Doris Troy. The musical was a huge success, running for eight years with thousands of performances off-Broadway and another 1,000 performances around the world.  

Now, “Mama, I Want to Sing!” is back home for its 40th anniversary for a limited engagement this week. The show now stars three young performers from LaGuardia High School: Asa Sulton, Elise Silver and Faith Cochrane.  

They also run a nonprofit called the Mama Foundation for the Arts. For over 25 years, it has helped thousands of New York City children ages 7-19 find and nurture their musical talents. 

The mother and daughter hope the show will be a celebration of culture and bring the community together. You can find tickets on the Mama Foundation for the Arts website.