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Imagination Stage: 6 Shows for 2022-2023

October 15, 2022 @ 8:00 am - April 16, 2023 @ 5:00 pm EDT

Imagination Stage Announces

Six Shows for 2022-2023


BETHESDA, MD (June 14, 2022). 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.

2022-2023 Theatre for Young Audiences Shows

Special limited engagement

In the Year of the Boar and Jackie Robinson

Based on the book by Bette Bao Lord

Adapted for the stage by Mark Branner

Directed by Eric Johnson

October 15 – 22, 2022

Best for age 7+


A special limited engagement from the Honolulu Theatre for Youth. Adapted from the award-winning novel, this play tells the touching story of a young Chinese American girl and her family moving from China to the United States in 1947. Using humor and a rich multimedia staging, the play celebrates the bravery and sacrifice of those who bring new perspectives to our country.


S.P.I.E.S. 2: Flight of the Hawk

Conceived and co-directed by Strother Gaines

Written by Doug RobinsonProduced and co-directed by Jeffrey Eagle

October 29 –  November 20, 2022

In the Reeve Studio Theatre

Best for ages 5 – 11


Join S.P.I.E.S. 2 in person, where it is more interactive than ever! This follow-up to the online hit S.P.I.E.S. & the Lost Treasure of Atlantis combines live theatre and taped adventure scenes to create a collaborative and exciting experience where each audience gets to be the hero and solve the puzzles–and no two performances are alike.


Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed: The Rock Experience

Based on the book Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed by Mo Willems

Published by Hyperion Books for Children

Script and Lyrics by Mo Willems

Music by Deborah Wicks La Puma

Directed by  Kathryn Chase Bryer

November 16, 2022 – January 8, 2023

In the Lerner Family Theatre

Best for ages 4 – 10


When clothing suddenly falls from the sky, Wilbur J. Mole Rat stuns the colony with his decision to get dressed! In a community where baring is caring and skin is in, can Wilbur find the courage to march to the beat of his own drum? Or better yet, rock to the rhythm of his own electric guitar? Mo Willem’s beloved picture book explores what can happen when we have the courage to be ourselves.


The Hula-Hoopin’ Queen

By Thelma Lynne Godin, Illustrated by Vanessa Brantley-Newton

Adapted by Gloria Bond Clunie

Directed by Angelisa Gillyard

February 15 – April 8, 2023

Best for ages 5 – 11


Kameeka is confident that today she will finally beat her rival, Jamara, and become the Hula-Hoopin’ Queen of 139th Street in Harlem. But she has to prepare for Miz Adeline’s birthday party and almost ruins the day. Until Miz Adeline confesses that she’s also got the itch–the hula-hoopin’ itch! Her fingers start snappin’. Her hips start swingin’. Soon everyone’s hips are swinging as the party spills out onto the street. This brand new play has been commissioned and developed by Imagination Stage and Childsplay, AZ.


Nate the Great

Book and lyrics by John Maclay

Music and lyrics by Brett Ryback

Based on the novel Marjorie Sharmat

Directed by Janet Stanford

June 21 – August 11, 2023

In the Lerner Family Theatre

Best for ages 5 – 11


Art matters in this musical mystery! A boy who loves detective work and calls himself Nate the Great is thrust into solving not one, but two mysteries involving a cat, a dog, two friends, and a missing painting.


2022-2023 Theatre for the Very Young Shows



By Pietro Chiarenza and Patrick Lynch

Directed by Kathryn Chase Bryer

January 14 – February 12, 2023

Best for ages 1-5


Enter a fantastical island world where fish soar through the air, lemons light up the sky, and sheep go parading by. With gentle music, puppets, and props, actors lead children and caregivers in an interactive exploration of a magical place of play.


Wake Up, Brother Bear

By Janet Stanford and Kathryn Chase Bryer

Directed by Kathryn Chase Bryer

March 18 – April 16, 2023

In the Reeve Studio Theatre

Best for ages 1-5

Sister Bear and Brother Bear are back from hibernation to take little ones on an interactive journey through the seasons. Meet a curious butterfly, play in a rushing waterfall, and catch lightning bugs as the bears frolic through the forest in an unforgettable theatre experience.


In addition to the shows Imagination Stage is producing in its Bethesda theatre center, the 42 year-old not-for-profit arts organization has year-round education programming for children ages 1-18 of all abilities, and produces shows in its Theatre for Change program which tour to secondary schools, colleges, and other community venues in Montgomery County and Washington, DC.




October 15, 2022 @ 8:00 am EDT
April 16, 2023 @ 5:00 pm EDT
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Imagination Stage
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Imagination Stage
4908 Auburn Avenue
Bethesda, MD 20814 United States
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