Tag Archives: Imagination Stage

{Review!} Thumbelina at Imagination Stage

Photo courtesy of Imagination Stage

[Note: This review is by KFDC contributor Emily Moise.]

Young theater-goers can experience the art of storytelling like never before at Imagination Stage’s Thumbelina, playing now through April 5. The classic Hans Christian Andersen tale about a girl trying to find her place in the world is reimagined with artistry inspired by Kamishibai, a form of Japanese street theater. Along with traditional acting performances, this unique production utilizes live video projections of small-scale puppetry and dioramas to bring the story of a thumb-sized girl to life.

Thumbelina employs the same ensemble of actors as Zomo the Rabbit: A Hip-Hop Creation Myth, a musical currently playing in repertory, in this contrasting brand of theater. [You can read the KFDC review of Zomo here.] If you happen to see both shows, the versatility of these actors is awe-inducing — once rapping and hip-hop dancing in Zomo, now maneuvering mini puppets along mini video-projected sets on right and left stage, then moving center stage for their life-sized roles in Thumbelina.

Photo courtesy of Imagination Stage

Thumbelina, like Zomo, offers lessons abound for young audience members just beginning to learn about the world and their place in it. Most importantly: you have the power to create your own story, and you will eventually find your people and place, just be kind to those that are different along the way.

The multi-media aspect of the production adds a whole other layer to the lessons, as Thumbelina certainly writes its own category of theater. And look at all of the different skill-sets needed to bring it to life!

Zomo is a tough act to follow with its high-energy and audience engagement. But Thumbelina captivates with its creative production methods, flawless lead performance, a climactic act with a villainous mole, and a touching ending that’s a reminder to kids and adults alike that the rest is still unwritten.

Photo courtesy of Imagination Stage

Thumbelina is playing now through April 5 at Imagination Stage, located at 4908 Auburn Avenue, Bethesda, MD. Tickets are $15 – $35. Recommended for ages 4+.


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Filed under 2020, DC, Gradeschoolers, Live Entertainment, Maryland, Middle Schoolers, Preschoolers, Seasonal, Theatre, Weekend, Winter

{Review!} Zomo the Rabbit: A Hip-Hop Creation Myth at Imagination Stage

Photo courtesy of Imagination Stage

[Note: This review is by KFDC contributor Emily Moise, who saw a performance of Zomo the Rabbit: A Hip-Hop Creation Myth with her 3-year-old daughter.]

Come for the Adidas sweat suit-clad, hip-hopping rabbit, stay for the life lessons. I had no idea what to expect at Imagination Stage’s Zomo the Rabbit: A Hip-Hop Creation Myth; I had only skimmed the Nigerian folktale (which has an entirely different ending) and the brief show description online (which doesn’t do it justice!). But a special opening night showing, where many kids were likely out past their bedtimes, made me think my daughter and I were about to see something special. And indeed it was.

From the start, that aforementioned rabbit named Zomo captivates the audience with nothing but his Run DMC-inspired energy and ensemble. He engages children and adults alike in his locally-spun, ill-fated quest for power that takes him through Washington, DC — complete with Metro rides and a dash of political humor. You will find yourself compelled to immediately start clapping and foot stomping along with the beat of his rhymes, and that continues until the end as the audience participates eagerly, both solicited and unsolicited. My preschooler lit up when it was her (and every kid’s) turn to stand up and show off her hip-hop moves.

Photo courtesy of Imagination Stage

Zomo’s journey involves a series of suspenseful, young-child-relatable wrongdoings. Namely, taking things that aren’t his. We follow him to the DC Waterfront for a dance-off with a breakdancing fish, to the National Zoo for an encounter with a graffiti artist cow, and to Adams Morgan for a jam session with a DJ leopard. He does some soul searching along the way, contemplating whether or not he’ll have more with the power he’s seeking or the friendships he’s building (that now need repair). Find out what he decides — and what your children decide for him — and how cultural barrier-breaking hip-hop was born according to the legend of Zomo.

Zomo the Rabbit: A Hip-Hop Creation Myth is running now through March 22 at Imagination Stage, located at 4908 Auburn Avenue, Bethesda, MD. Tickets are $15-$35. Recommended for ages 4+.

PS: Zomo the Rabbit: A Hip-Hop Creation Myth is playing in repertory with Thumbelina, opening next weekend. Stay tuned for a review!


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The BFG Marks a Giant Leap in DC Children’s Theatre

bfg

Have you heard the big news? The BFG, the beloved Roald Dahl book, has been brought to life for the stage and will be at The National Theatre through July 25. Owen and I saw a performance this past weekend, and we both found the production hugely entertaining.

Integrating magnificent puppetry, rich visuals, and imaginative storytelling, this stage version presents the tale of the world’s only friendly giant, who brings good dreams to humans, and Sophie, an orphaned little girl, as they embark on a magical journey to save the children of England from bad giants. It does so with adventure and humor that captivates both children and adults.

And this presentation of The BFG is more than just a wonderful show. It’s the inaugural production of The National Children’s Theatre, an alliance between Imagination Stage and The National Theatre to bring the theatre arts to more children in DC. In pre-performance remarks about the partnership, it was announced that 10,000 children from each ward in the District would be invited to see The BFG in November — a tremendous treat for many! I can’t wait to see what’s coming next.

The BFG is running at The National Theatre through July 25, with morning performances during the week, an evening show Friday, and a matinee on Saturday. It’s recommended for ages 5 and up. Tickets are $14-38.


Disclosure: I received complimentary tickets to see The BFG, however, all opinions expressed here are entirely my own.


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Save Your Seats for Live Entertainment this Spring

Catch Blue at Imagination Stage through April 12

Catch Blue at Imagination Stage through April 12



With the new season comes a whole new crop of shows for young audiences! Here’s a round-up of where you can catch some live entertainment throughout spring, listed in order by start date. Tickets are available for all of them now, so go save your seats!

Blue
Where: Imagination Stage
When: Through April 12
Tickets: $12

Imagine a world where the only color is blue. Blue flowers, blue grass, even blue cereal! Inky and Pale live in such a world until they discover something RED! In this interactive show, two friends find fun in every color of the rainbow!

Jack and the Beanstalk
Where: The Puppet Co.
When: Through May 3
Tickets: $10

Fe-fi-fo-fum. A timely version of the classic children’s tale about the young lad that doesn’t know beans about trading, but still manages to climb his way to the top. Jack finds that happiness lies in helping others rather than mere personal gain. Told with rod puppets and some surprising twists, Jack has long been a favorite of our audiences. Recommended for K – Grade 6.

Tot Rock
Where: Jammin’ Java
When: Ongoing
Tickets: $5/weekdays, $10/weekends

Tot Rock is Jammin’ Java’s super-popular kids music concert series, providing wholesome family entertainment at one of the DC Metro area’s finest music clubs. Local acts perform every Thursday and Friday, and touring performers drop by on many weekends. Check the calendar often to see when your favorite act is performing, and for other calendar updates.

Saturday Morning at the National
Where: National Theatre
When: Saturdays, 9:30am & 11am
Tickets: Free

The free theatre program runs on select Saturdays with performances at 9:30am and 11:30am. Musicals, plays, storytelling, and comedy shows are all part of the live entertainment line-up. See the complete schedule of performances here. Tickets are distributed day of performances on a first-come, first-served basis. Everyone must be in line to receive a ticket.

Tiny Tots
Where: The Puppet Co.
When: Most Wednesdays, Saturdays, & Sundays at 10am
Tickets: $5

The series presents puppet shows designed for the youngest theater patrons (ages 0-4). They are shorter, the lights stay on, and the doors stay open. They have an arsenal of shows that they switch up every performance, so be sure to check the schedule to see what’s playing when you go.

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz
Where: Adventure Theatre
When: April 3 – May 25
Tickets: $19

Life in Kansas has been a bit boring for Dorothy and her little dog Toto. Until one day, a cyclone swoops in and takes them “over the rainbow” to the wonderful and magical land of Oz. With the Scarecrow, the Tin Man, and the Cowardly Lion, Dorothy sets off on the adventure of a lifetime down the yellow brick road to the Emerald City. These new friends brave witches, flying monkeys, and a Haunted Forest all to meet the Wizard of Oz, who promises to make their dreams come true.

Wacky Science with Ken Scott
Where: Discovery Theater
When: April 7
Tickets: $3-6

Whiz, bang, poof, and pop—Dr. Science’s zany show makes science look way cool! With a focus on amazing science experiments that use everyday objects, Scott makes the scientific method easy to understand in a high-energy, hands-on experience.

Sinbad: The Untold Tale
Where: Imagination Stage
When: April 8 – May 31
Tickets: $10-25

Sinbad the Sailor has retired from his notorious adventures. He tries to keep his feisty daughter Ittifaq safe from the sorceress Jan Shah. But when a mysterious cloud descends upon Baghdad putting all of the adults to sleep, proud Ittifaq must enlist the help of Sinbad the Porter, a street orphan whom she despises. A quest full of humor, genies, sword fights, diamonds, magic boats, and flying carpets ensues! The two young explorers cross the chasm of their differences to become fast friends and fellow adventurers for life. Recommended for ages 5-12.

Nature Jam: We Dig Earth
Where: Discovery Theater
When: April 9-10
Tickets: $3-6

The Tot Rock: Jammin’ at the Smithsonian series presents a show with a nature them! From wiggly worms to weather patterns, mud pies to meandering rivers, singer-songwriters Rob and Zach go green (and a little crazy) as they celebrate the wonders of the earth. Featuring call-and-response songs, energetic dance numbers, and an HD video backdrop, this interactive show makes learning how to take good care of our planet easy, fun, and memorable.

Much Ado About Nothing
Where: The Theatre On The Run
When: April 10-12
Tickets: $8

Encore Stage & Studio presents a classic in this “by kids for kids” production: What would a Shakespeare play be without young love, comical family ties, and a super villain to destroy all of the fun? Absolutely nothing! In this Bard in the Box production, Encore brings us to Messina, Italy where love stories intertwine and hilarity ensues. Beatrice and Benedick have vowed never to marry anyone, and Hero and Claudio can’t wait to be united. With two such different couples, and a plot twist which threatens to ruin everyone’s plans, can everyone reach a happy ending? Recommended for ages 8 and older.

NSO Teddy Bear Concert: Imagination Duo
Where: Kennedy Center
When: April 11 – 12
Tickets: $20

Ever hear a violin gallop? Wonder why a lullaby sighs? Curious how a bumblebee takes flight on wings of song? Then join husband-and-wife violin duo–Glenn Donnellan of the NSO and Jan Chong–as they use stories, sound effects, children’s songs, and gems from the classical repertoire to make your imagination come alive! Kids can bring their favorite stuffed animal to these interactive programs and have their teddy bear friend join in all the fun! Lasting approximately 45 minutes, they’re perfect for even the youngest music lovers in your family. Go early for “Musical Playtime,” staring 45 minutes before each Teddy Bear Concert, to enjoy music and movement activities especially designed for small children.

Seussical, Jr.
Where: Family Worship Center in Lorton, Va.
When: April 17, 18, 24, 25
Tickets: $12

Northern Virginia Players’ production will transport audiences from the Jungle of Nool, to Whoville, to the Circus McGurkus, as the Cat in the Hat tells the story of Horton, an elephant who discovers a speck of dust containing tiny people called the Whos. Jojo, a Who child who gets in trouble for thinking too many “thinks” and Horton develop a bond as Horton not only must protect the Whos from a world of naysayers and dangers, but must also guard an abandoned egg that’s been left in his care by Mayzie La Bird. Although Horton faces ridicule, danger, kidnapping, and a trial, the intrepid Gertrude McFuzz never loses faith in him. With the help of Gertrude JoJo, Horton emerges triumphant!

BSO Music Box: On Safari
Where: Strathmore
When: April 18, 10am & 11:30am
Tickets: $15

Adventure awaits as your family is whisked away to enjoy a musical safari full of elephants, giraffes, lions and zebras. The BSO Music Box concert series is created for babies and toddlers 6 months to 3 years and their families. Attendees of all ages are required to have a ticket. Concerts take place in the lobby and seating is unreserved. Limited seating for those unable to sit on the floor for an extended period of time is available.
http://www.strathmore.org/eventstickets/calendar/view.asp?id=11514

Kingman Island Bluegrass Festival
Where: Kingman Island
When: April 25
Tickets: $15

The Sixth Annual Kingman Island Bluegrass and Folk Festival features two main stages of bluegrass and Americana music with co-headliners Cabinet and Larry Keel Experience and more. The festival will celebrate local music, food, and culture as well as the revitalization of the Anacostia River, while supporting hands-on education programming provided by Living Classrooms on Kingman Island. The Festival will include eight hours of performances by local bluegrass, folk and Americana artists, games and outdoor beverages, DC’s favorite food trucks, outdoor bike course, free kayaking courtesy of REI, giveaways and a number of activities for children of all ages including a children’s stage with arts & crafts. Festival sponsor REI will be bringing the REI Village, a touring celebration of the outdoor lifestyle (with special gifts for REI members).

The Very Hungry Caterpillar and Other Eric Carle Favourites
Where: The Alden
When: April 25
Tickets: $15 or $10/McLean district residents

Three beloved stories by Eric Carle, award-winning children’s book illustrator and author, are retold on stage through the magic of black light and fanciful puppets. “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” follows the wonderful adventures of a very tiny and very hungry caterpillar as he eats his way through an amazing variety of foods on his path to becoming a beautiful butterfly. High up in the sky, “Little Cloud” playfully transforms himself into various creatures, including a sheep, an airplane and a shark. “The Mixed-Up Chameleon” is bored with his life, sitting about predictably changing color all day. Following an adventurous trip to the zoo, he attempts to emulate the beautiful animals he sees before coming to the conclusion that there is value in his own unique self. Recommended for ages 4 and up.

TETRISplus
Where: Kennedy Center
When: April 25-26
Tickets: $20

Arch8 dance company from the Netherlands brings together two of their most physically awe-inspiring works–Tetris and No Man is an Island–to explore how we connect, communicate, cooperate, and invite others into our world. Recommended for ages 7 and up.

NSO Family Concert: Gershwin’s Magic Key
Where: Kennedy Center
When: April 26
Tickets: $20

Extra, extra! Read all about it! On the streets of New York, a poor newspaper boy has a chance encounter with a talented musician. Turns out, it’s George Gershwin, one of the greatest American composers of all time! In this entertaining and educational world premiere concert, the NSO magically weaves Gershwin’s greatest hits into the drama, as the master composer shares anecdotes about his life and musical passion. Pretty soon, a friendship develops highlighting the vast melting pot of American music–which ultimately becomes the key to unlocking the boy’s own potential! Go early for the Musical Instrument “Petting Zoo” in the Atrium. Young concertgoers can get up close and hands-on with the instruments they’ll see played on the stage–from violins, trumpets, and oboes to trombones and percussion. Stay after the 4pm concert for a Kids’ Chat, where young audience members can ask questions and hear engaging stories in an up-close-and-personal talk with the concert artists. Recommended for ages 5 and up.

NSO Ensemble Concert: Connections: Science & Math + Music
Where: Kennedy Center
When: May 2
Tickets: $20

Calling all math nerds, science geeks, and music lovers to this world premiere Connections program! This fast-paced multimedia program shows 26 ways (a full alphabet’s worth!) that math and science are related to music. From “a” for accents and “h” for harmonics, to “s” for sine waves and “x” for xylophones, this exciting new concert experience promises to give students a musical AND mental workout!

The Washington Ballet: ALICE (in wonderland)
Where: Kennedy Center
When: May 6-17
Tickets: $46.00 – $135.00

ALICE (in wonderland) is a work of rich and impressive creativity that is full of whimsical charm and a feeling for the absurd, the visual splendor and imaginative choreography of TWB’s production was highly popular with adults as well as children. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland is, without a doubt, one of the most famous and enduring of children’s classics. Join Alice as she stumbles into adventure, following a time-obsessed rabbit into a wonderland where everything is illogical. She has a series of marvelous adventures with the White Rabbit, Cheshire Cat, the Mad Hatter, and other strange creatures.

Tigers, Dragons and Other Wise ‘Tails’
Where: Discovery Theater
When: May 5-8 & 12-15
Tickets: $3-8

Folktales are fun when they include dancing dragon puppets, a crazy tiger, and moles that get movin’ to J-pop. Audiences learn a little about each story’s culture, try out Asian languages and enjoy Asian tales both ancient and new in this Discovery Theater original. Folktales include: The Tiger, the Thief, and the Dried Persimmon (Korea), which puts a new spin on mistaken identity with a very silly tiger, a babysitting grandma, and dried fruit; The Wise Mole (Japan), which updates an ancient story of young love (complete with cell phones and iPods) and the mythic Four Dragon Rivers of China, which features beautiful flying dragon puppets. Recommended for ages 5-10.

Once on this Island
Where: Creative Cauldron
When: May 8-
Tickets:

From the Tony Award-winning songwriting team of Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty (Seussical and Ragtime) comes a highly original and rousing calypso-reggae flavored tale of one small girl who finds love in a world of prejudice. Once on This Island garnered eight Tony nominations in its Broadway run, including Best Musical, Book and Score. The folk tale tells the story of Ti Moune, a peasant girl who falls in love with the well-born Daniel and is aided by the gods of earth, water and love in her desire to be with him. Visually splendid, and exploding with music and motion, this enchanting musical parable is a rousing tribute to the resilience of the human spirit.

NSO Kinderclassics: Beethoven at the Ballpark!
Where: Kennedy Center
When: May 9
Tickets: $20

Find out what baseball and music have in common when NSO violinist Glenn Donnellan — famous for his Electric Slugger, a fiddle made out of a baseball bat — joins Washington Nationals ballpark organist Matthew Van Hoose in this zany program that’s sure to entertain as much as it educates! Using musical examples from classical, pop, and baseball-themed works, plus Ernest Thayer’s beloved poem “Casey at the Bat,” this grand slam duo will show how the basics of ball play relate to the fundamentals of fiddling and mastery of music. You’ll see how numbers play their part, how music adds drama to America’s favorite pastime, and how to hit your spot on an instrument, just like players on the field do. So slide into a seat and cheer along as our tuneful team hits this family concert experience right out of the park! Go early for the Musical Instrument “Petting Zoo.” Starting one hour before each Kinderkonzert, this hands-on activity in the Kennedy Center Hall of States gives children a chance to get up close with the instruments they’ll see played on stage, from violins and trumpets to oboes and flutes. Recommended for ages 4 and up.

Cinderella
Where: The Puppet Co
When: May 7 – June 21
Tickets: $10

The elegance of 17th-century France, combining elaborate costumes of the Comedie Francais and Offenbach’s “Gaiety Parisian” to adorn the tale of the cinder girl who captures the heart of the handsome prince. The production was acclaimed at the 1997 National Puppet Festival, and performed by invitation at the Center for Puppetry Arts, in Atlanta. Recommended for K – Grade 6.

Dog Loves Books
Where: Publick Playhouse
When: May 12
Tickets: $8

Based on The New York Times best-selling children’s book, ArtsPower’s new musical is about the irresistible dog who loves books so much that he decides to open his own bookstore. At first, no customers come to his store, but Dog decides that he’s not alone if he’s surrounded by books, and he begins to read everything in his store. When customers finally arrive, he knows exactly which books to recommend. The delightful performance celebrates the power of imagination, encourages self-expression, and helps ignite the desire to read. Recommended for K – Grade 2.

Feet Don’t Fail Me Now!
Where: Kennedy Center
When: May 15-17
Tickets: $20

Known for transforming its tap shoes into new instruments of rhythm, innovative performance company Rhythmic Circus infuses its unpredictable blend of hard-hitting tap, high-spirited humor, and finger-snapping tunes into one amazing show. Recommended for ages 7 and up.

BSO Music Box: In the Treetops
Where: Strathmore
When: May 18, 10am & 11:30am
Tickets: $15

The cacophony of the rainforest comes to life through the sounds of exotic birds, monkeys and more! The BSO Music Box concert series is created for babies and toddlers 6 months to 3 years and their families. Attendees of all ages are required to have a ticket. Concerts take place in the lobby and seating is unreserved. Limited seating for those unable to sit on the floor for an extended period of time is available.

NSO Teddy Bear Concert: Violins and Trombones and Bears, Oh My!
Where: Kennedy Center
When: May 30-31
Tickets: $20

We can be as different as trombones and violins, and still play together in harmony! Kids and stuffed animals alike will hear the unique sounds of a garden hose, funnel horn, a grownup violin and a baby one, and trombones in three sizes! Kids can bring their favorite stuffed animal to these interactive programs and have their teddy bear friend join in all the fun! Lasting approximately 45 minutes, they’re perfect for even the youngest music lovers in your family. Go early for “Musical Playtime,” staring 45 minutes before each Teddy Bear Concert, to enjoy music and movement activities especially designed for small children. Recommended for ages 3-5.

Dreamtime: An Australian Adventure with Barefoot Puppets
Where: Discovery Theater
When: June 4-5
Tickets: $3-6

Emus, crocodiles, and frogs—oh my! Experience the magic of the Land Down Under as a mother platypus tries to lull her young one to sleep by sharing three stories inspired by Aboriginal folktales. In these how-and-why tales, learn how the emu became a flightless bird, why the platypus looks so strange, and meet a giant, bloated, ocean-swallowing frog. Perhaps you’ll even be invited onstage to help. Recommended for ages 4-8.

The Little Prince
Where: Creative Cauldron
When: June 5-21
Tickets:

“All grown-ups were once children…but only a few of them remember it.” Antoine de Saint-Exupery’s poetic tale tells the story of a world-weary aviator who gets stranded in the Sahara Desert. A small boy from another planet arrives and begins to share his stories about his adventures through the galaxy and his relationship with a special flower. By learning that “one sees well only with the heart,” the aviator comes to a new understanding of how to laugh, cry, and love again. This beloved French classic comes to life in an adaptation filled with enchanting music and heartfelt lyrics, with sophisticated appeal to all ages.

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