Imagination Stage Unveils Exciting Lineup for 2024/25 Season

Jul 3, 2024
Imagination Stage

Imagination Stage, the largest professional theater in the metro DC area dedicated to young audiences, unveiled its five-show lineup for the 2024/25 season, the first under the guidance of new Chief Artistic Programming Officer Joanne Seelig Lamparter. The season kicks off in the Lerner Family Theatre with the cherished "bear of little brain," Winnie the Pooh, running from September 18 to October 27, and is ideal for children aged 3-8. Following this are two productions aimed at elementary-aged children: A Cajun Red Riding Hood (December 11 - March 7) and Dory Fantasmagory (June 18 - August 3). For the youngest viewers, ages 1-4, two original productions will be presented in the cozy Reeve Studio Theatre: Paper Dreams (January 11 - February 16) and Mother Goose (March 1 - April 13).

This season's offerings highlight protagonists who are deeply relatable, showcasing their imperfections and personal growth through adventurous and entertaining journeys. Lamparter states, "I can't wait for families, school groups, and our many community partners to experience these relevant and beautifully produced shows." Reflecting her vision, she notes that "Imagination Stage's performances and classes meet children where they are, center their needs, and allow them to voice what's important in their world."

The 2024-2025 season begins with Winnie the Pooh, providing an opportunity for three-year-olds to enjoy the 390-seat Lerner Family Theatre, similar to last season's The Very Hungry Caterpillar Show. This production is based on the original stories rather than the Disney adaptation. Associate Artistic Director Kathryn Chase Bryer describes it as "delightfully funny and sweet and focuses on friendship, community, and kindness-all things that we want for our young children." The multi-talented Christopher Michael Richardson will direct the production, making his professional directing debut while also handling musical arrangements and orchestrations.

Following this, A Cajun Red Riding Hood, based on the book Petite Rouge by Mike Artell with illustrations by Jim Harris, will take the stage. Imagination Stage originally commissioned writer/composer/lyricist Joan Cushing to create this piece, premiering it 20 years ago. The Washington Post praised the original production, stating, "With the exuberance of a Mardi Gras float wheeling through the Big Easy, Joan Cushing has turned Mike Artell's picture book into a clever stage production whose tunes explode with Louisiana zest." Nathaniel Claridad, who previously directed Mr. Popper's Penguins at Imagination Stage, will direct this production. Bryer highlights the show's "goofy, silly villain and incredible music and dance-there are lessons about going out into the big world, but they are delivered in a totally fun, lively, and creative way."

Summer 2025 will feature the regional premiere of Dory Fantasmagory, based on the popular book series by Abby Hanlon. Bryer, who will direct, comments that "Dory is the best new script we've read in a long time and embodies what IStage is all about-encouraging children to use their imagination to navigate life." This quirky and surprising show promises to brighten any summer day.

For over a decade, Imagination Stage has been a national leader in Theatre for the Very Young (TVY). This season continues that tradition with two multi-sensory, interactive productions for children ages 1-4 in the Reeve Studio Theatre.

In January and February, Paper Dreams, developed with a dance company in Barcelona, will be accessible to all ages and non-English speakers. Bryer describes it as "extremely engaging for young children; it is a kinesthetic experience as well as a visual one."

In March and April, Mother Goose will be presented. Created by Bryer and former Founding Artistic Director Janet Stanford, Bryer, who will direct, explains that "these are stories that children will be taught in kindergarten, so it's fun for us to introduce them to the poetry when they are even younger. The rhymes are told through puppetry and lots of beautiful visual imagery." Even the youngest children will connect with this timeless material.