Not too long ago we were going to local performances at our favorite theatres, exposing our children to the arts. We are so happy Imagination Stage has adapted their art into something we can watch from home, for now and in this latest show, they definitely completed the mission!
For its second foray into the world of virtual theatre, Imagination Stage meets this unique moment with Spy Academy & the Lost Treasures of Atlantis, an immersive online experience best for children ages 5+. The show–part escape room, part spy adventure, and part online game–engages children in an interactive performance as meaningful as it is delightful. Our children– excuse me, Cadet Cheese and Cadet Spygirl are ages 6 and 9 and both really enjoyed this performance as it was interactive and suspenseful all while observing the actors in their element which was silly and entertaining. This was a Zoom they were actually engaged in and fit the bill for something they had been missing.
The audience which has no more than 15 households per performance, takes on the role of cadets at a spy academy. They are being taught by Pat, a live facilitator. When Pat gets notification that some of the academy’s adult spies need help evading the villainous Dr. Levinious as they search for the Heart of the Dragon, Pat recruits all of the cadets to help them by solving various puzzles and problems. Enter your household! Pat is played by nimble and comedic improvisational actors Jasmine Jones, Matthew Pauli or Amanda Haddock (at different performances), and directly urges the participation of the cadets in a “create your own adventure”-style exploration of numerous challenges. (Ssshhh: the adults in the household will have received instructions in advance to secretly prepare some key props to have nearby for their cadets.)
We were emailed documents to print out including an introductory letter to the cadets, activities and clues to use during the performance, and a certificate to be awarded to the cadets after the mission is completed. We put these in envelopes or hid them throughout our house. Silly enough, it was something my husband and I actually had fun doing as we knew this was so unique that our kids would be shocked to find these in real time as they watched the show– at one point Pat told viewers to check their front door for a package and to our kids surprise there was a small package waiting there for them to use with the show! Our kids think it was a ‘black bag job’ and didn’t ask if it was up who left the materials for them, which made it fun. However, if you do not have a printer Pat does an amazing job to share everything on screen and reassure those who may not have the items at home to have no fear and presents alternatives.
The artfully filmed segments of the spies getting into and out of jams in far-flung locations were filmed in all the nooks and crannies of Imagination Stage’s Bethesda facility, including against the back wall of the stage, which was transformed into an enormous green screen to allow for exciting special effects. Our cadets were amazed when we told them where it was filmed and how. They are eager to get back to seeing performances in-person but they both agreed that this was an amazing alternative!
Spy Academy & the Lost Treasures of Atlantis runs through May 23, 2021
Ticket cost: $25 per household
Run time: Roughly 45 minutes
You can even purchase a private performance if you have a cadet’s birthday approaching! Call the Box Office for more details 301-280-1660.
Cast and Creative Team:
Edima Essien- Newscaster
Jasmine Jones-Facilitator (swing)
Strother Gaines-Concept and Co-Director
Jeffrey Eagle-Co-Director and Producer
Chris Mariles-Director of Photography
Ted Hogeman-Sound Operator
Paige Smith Lee-Editor
Madison Booth-Costume Designer
Katie Moshier-Stage Manager
Also, be sure to check out Imagination Stage Summer Camp!