Kid’s Theater Review: John Tartaglia’s ImaginOcean

It took all of 15-seconds for the Bear to squeal “This is so cool!”.

And you know what?  She nailed it, the black light puppet musical ImaginOcean is cool, thanks mostly to the 1/2 dozen, spirited show tunes (the soapy bubbles at the start and finish don’t hurt either).  She got it in 4 words, I’m going to use over 400.

John Tartaglia, a veteran of Avenue Q, Disney’s Beauty & the Beast and Shrek: The Musical, proves a talented songwriter for young ears.  The sweeping ballad “Imagination” borrows heavily from Joe Raposo’s fantastical “Imagination Song” (Sesame Street), adding technicolor to an already brilliant song concept.   “Jellyfish Jive” is a classic Broadway musical swing dance number that, on stage, sees a gaggle of brilliant jellies excitedly swirl, flip and zoom.  This lively tune is undoubtably the highlight of the entire show, but all the songs end up being more memorable than most of the dialogue, which doesn’t maintain the same spark and wit of the lyrics.  The music is what gives ImaginOcean it’s radiant, DayGlo sheen.

The other aspect of ImaginOcean you won’t soon forget are its stars; Bubbles, Dorsel, and Tank.  The aquatic cast appear to float above the crowd, giving the illusion of eye-popping, real 3-D puppet action putting you squarely in the bottom of the ocean alongside your kid’s new fishy friends.  This is fitting because it’s an audience-positive experience; interaction is needed and gives the show a casual, lighthearted and humorous vibe making ImaginOcean perfectly suited for even the youngest of children.  Your family takes part in the underwater adventure, shouting words of encouragement along the way and then getting to share in the treasure…sorta.  If there is one big fail with the ImaginOcean experience (not the show itself) it’s this: the on-stage payoff in the final scene is an item that is being sold in the lobby for $5.  The 10-cents-to-manufacture trinket should have been factored into the ticket price so that each and every youngster in attendance walks out with the same prize for aiding their new fish friends find the treasure. Bubbles didn’t have to buy her prize and neither should lil’ Johnny or Suzy.

The real reward is that the under-the-sea musical works magnificently for kids in the 2-7 age range.  ImaginOcean skews this young thanks to it’s reliance on, and simplified presentation of, common kiddie themes; courage, confidence, fear, and friendship.  This prevents the production from stretching it’s tentacles to reach older audiences.  It’s not that the subject matter needs to be as deep as the ocean itself, but Tartaglia could have easily constructed a tad more sophisticated plot, ’cause as most parents know, kids are way smarter than most folks give ’em credit for and are capable of understanding more complex ideas and themes. That said, kids in 2nd grade and under will be treated to a hip and visually awe-inspiring show, one that features a smart and confident girl character; always a pleasant thing!

There isn’t a more visually marvelous musical event for the kindergarten-and-under demographic currently running off, on or far away from Broadway than John Tartaglia’s ImaginOcean.

ImaginOcean runs through November 14th 2010, at New World Stages in New York City’s Theater District.

For tickets and more information, head here.

The ImaginOcean original cast recording CD has positively consumed my two girls.  The disc has been transported between bedroom and car, and back again, every day since about a week before we saw the show, and every day since.   The album has all the musical bits and songs from the show, colorful packaging and liner notes with images of all the underwater characters.  You can absolutely enjoy the music without ever seeing the show on stage.  So if you’re in Iowa or Belgium, don’t let that stop you from sharing the charming songs of ImaginOcean with your kids.

Want tickets to see ImaginOcean? Time Out New York Kids is giving away a gift pack of 4 tickets, an original cast recording CD and a pair of friendship bracelets. Go here for details and to enter – but HURRY, you have only until tomorrow 8/19/10 to enter!

**One more thing I want to share, something that just landed in my inbox today**

Dorsel is celebrating his 4th Birthday on September 4th and there a few events and discounts being promoted in conjunction with this special event.

Live event:

On Saturday, September 4, cast members of ImaginOcean will appear at Books of Wonder (18 West 18th Street), 12:00 Noon to 2:00 PM, to celebrate Dorsel’s big day with songs, story time and birthday cake.

Giveaways at the show:

There will be a special birthday sing-along at the end of performances on September 4 and 5 for Dorsel by the cast and the audience. In addition, all children in the audience September 4 and 5 will receive an ImaginOcean Birthday goodie bag, including an ImaginOcean poster.


Save $56 with a special Family Four Pack. Pay just $100 for four tickets to any performance on September 4 and 5.  Order by visiting Broadwayoffers.com or call (212) 947-8844 and mention code JTDORSEL8 (Tickets are regularly $39 each/$156 for four tickets).


*OWTK received 4 complimentary tickets to see ImaginOcean, as well as a copy of the original cast recording CD. The opinions expressed above are unbiased and true – no arm twisting took place in the review process.

Tags: , ,

Comments are closed.

Wordpress Social Share Plugin powered by Ultimatelysocial