Imagination Stage™, the metro DC region’s largest professional theatre for young audiences, announces its six shows for 2022-2023, which include two newly-commissioned world premieres, two musicals based on popular books, and two favorites especially for the very youngest theatre-goers.
“We are back in full force for 2022-2023,” says Founding Artistic Director Janet Stanford. “We’ll be welcoming many children whose first live theatre experience has been delayed because of the pandemic. We know how delighted they’ll be that their concerns, their sense of humor, and their emotional lives are being lifted up and mirrored back to them with the importance that they deserve–and which the pandemic has revealed that they need.” Imagination Stage Managing Director Jason Najjoum clearly remembers his first theatre experience and how it shaped his childhood and beyond: “I saw my first live play at 3 years old – Peter Pan at George Mason. Not only did I get my first sense of belonging in school-aged band, choir, and drama, but it was in these immersive arts experiences that I first found my voice and started to build the muscle of empathy. I wish the same for all the young people in our area.”
The season starts in October and includes S.P.I.E.S. 2: The Flight of the Hawk (October 29 – November 20, 2022), Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed: The Rock Experience (November 16, 2022 – January 8, 2023), Aquarium (January 14 – February 12, 2023), The Hula-Hoopin’ Queen (February 15 – April 8, 2023), Wake Up, Brother Bear (March 18 – April 16, 2023), and Nate the Great (June 21 – August 11, 2023). In addition, IStage is presenting a special limited engagement of Honolulu Theatre for Youth’s production of In the Year of the Boar and Jackie Robinson (October 15 – 22, 2022).
Discount ticket packages are now available for purchase. Packages are structured by age of children and by number of shows the patron wishes to see. The packages–called Bear Cub Mini Pack, Penguin Three-Pack, and Cool Cats Four-Pack–are available on Imagination Stage’s website or by calling the box office at 301-280-1660. Single tickets go on sale on September 1 for our fall shows, and later for shows in 2023.
The newly-commissioned, uniquely structured S.P.I.E.S. 2: The Flight of the Hawk (October 29 – November 20, 2022) is an in-person follow-up to Imagination Stage’s 2021 online immersive hit S.P.I.E.S. & the Lost Treasure of Atlantis, which DC Metro Theatre Arts called “a fantastically entertaining conglomerate of action, adventure, suspense, and pure silliness.” Spy Team 7 is back, and this time, the action is both live AND on film. The live audience will work together to steer the adventure and to solve the problems and puzzles that will help the spies save the world from the Evil Syndicate! The original creative team of Strother Gaines, Douglas Robinson, and Jeffrey Eagle reunites, and the filmed cast includes returning actors Danielle Gallo and Miss Kitty as well as newcomers Mitchell Alexander, Max Johnson, and Majenta Thomas. Talented improv actors Gabrielle Allen and Amanda Haddock will perform live on stage.
For the Thanksgiving and December holiday season, Mo Willems’ Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed: The Rock Experience merrily takes the stage. Willems has written the script and lyrics, based on his book, and Deborah Wicks La Puma writes the music. Imagination Stage Associate Artistic Director and Helen Hayes Award-winning director Kathryn Chase Bryer directs a cast including Caroline Dubberly, Steven Gondré-Lewis, Russell Rinker, Harrison Smith, Alana Thomas, and Karen Vincent. The production team includes Music Director Deborah Jacobson, Choreographer Tony Thomas, Scenic Designer Mollie Singer, Costume Designer Eric Abele, and Lighting Designer Max Doolittle.
Imagination Stage and Childsplay, AZ have co-commissioned and developed The Hula-Hoopin-Queen, which has its World Premiere at Imagination Stage starting February 15, 2023. Stanford says that the show “celebrates the idea that it takes a village to raise a child. It’s a joyful block-party of a show where aunties, kids, and moms all contribute glorious wisdom.” Based on the picture book by Thelma Lynne Godin, with Illustrations by Vanessa Brantley-Newton, the show has been adapted for the stage by Gloria Bond Clunie, and is directed by Angelisa Gillyard. The cast includes Jasmine Brooks, Tamieka Chavis, Alex DeBard, Kalen Robinson, and Deidre Starnes. The production team includes Scenic Designer Natsu Onoda Power, Costume Designer Alexis Chaney, and Lighting Designer Johnathan Alexander.
In summer 2023, Nate the Great will play. Based on the popular book series about a boy detective, the musical is funny and suspenseful. The show has book and lyrics by John Maclay and music and lyrics by Brett Ryback, and is based on the novel Marjorie Sharmat. Janet Stanford directs, with cast and production team to be announced.
Two productions in the intimate Reeve Studio Theatre are for the youngest audiences: ages 1-5. For the past decade, Imagination Stage has been a national leader in Theatre for Very Young Audiences (TVYA), and this season offers two favorites that bring little ones close to the stage and into the action: Aquarium and Wake Up, Brother Bear. Both shows will be directed by Kathryn Chase Bryer, with casting to be announced.