Imagination Stage announces 2024/25 season

Productions include beloved characters Winnie the Pooh and Mother Goose, a Cajun twist on Little Red Riding Hood, the dance-based 'Paper Dreams' for the youngest audiences, and the regional premiere of 'Dory Fantasmagory.'

Imagination Stage, the metro DC region’s largest professional theater dedicated to young audiences, announces five shows for 2024/25 – the first season led by new Chief Artistic Programming Officer Joanne Seelig Lamparter. First up in the Lerner Family Theatre is the beloved “bear of little brain,” Winnie the Pooh (September 18 – October 27), which is best for ages 3-8. Next up are two for the elementary-age crowd: A Cajun Red Riding Hood (December 11 – March 7) and Dory Fantasmagory (June 18 – August 3). For the youngest audiences, ages 1-4, two home-grown shows play in the intimate Reeve Studio Theatre: Paper Dreams (January 11 – February 16) and Mother Goose (March 1 – April 13).

This season’s shows feature protagonists who are eminently relatable, flaws and all; each goes on a journey that is adventurous, entertaining, and that results in growth. Lamparter says “I can’t wait for families, school groups, and our many community partners to experience these relevant and beautifully produced shows.” They reflect Lamparter’s goal 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.”

Imagination Stage’s soon-to-be-completed 2023-2024 ‘greatest hits’ season continued the organization’s post-pandemic expansion, bringing in over 57,000 audience members. This number includes 27,000 students and teachers from all over the DMV coming to weekday field trips, in what may be a first trip to the theater for many students. Around 4,500 third grade students from Title 1 schools come through the “Learning Through Theatre”  partnerships with Montgomery County Public Schools and DC Public Schools. Thanks to funding by government, foundation, and individual donors, the tickets to the performance, as well as robust wrap-around pre-show and post-show curriculum-based activities are free to students.

The 2024-2025 season starts with Winnie the Pooh, which, like last season’s The Very Hungry Caterpillar Show, offers a chance for three year-olds to be in the 390-seat Lerner Family Theatre for a taste of what the bigger kids get. The script is based on the source material, rather than the Disney film. Associate Artistic Director Kathryn Chase Bryer says it is “delightfully funny and sweet and focuses on friendship, community, and kindness–all things that we want for our young children.” Directing the production is the multi-talented Christopher Michael Richardson. Besides making his professional directing debut with this show, he will be doing the musical arrangements and orchestrations.

Next up is A Cajun Red Riding Hood, which is based on the book Petite Rouge by Mike Artell, illustrated by Jim Harris. Imagination Stage originally commissioned writer/composer/lyricist Joan Cushing and premiered the piece 20 years ago. Reviewing the original production, The Washington Post wrote: “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.” Directing the show is Nathaniel Claridad, who previously directed Mr. Popper’s Penguins at Imagination Stage. Bryer enthuses that “the show has a  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 brings the regional premiere of Dory Fantasmagory, which is based on the popular contemporary book series by Abby Hanlon. Bryer, who will direct the show, says 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.” Quirky and surprising, this show will add sunshine to a summer day.

For over a decade, Imagination Stage has been a national leader in Theatre for the Very Young (TVY), and this season offers two multi-sensory, interactive favorites for children ages 1-4 in the intimate Reeve Studio Theatre.

In January and February is Paper Dreams, which was developed with a dance company in Barcelona and is accessible to all ages and also to non-English language speakers. Bryer calls the show “extremely engaging for young children; it is a kinesthetic experience as well as a visual one.”

In March and April is Mother Goose. This show is created by Bryer and former Founding Artistic Director Janet Stanford. Bryer, who will direct, says “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.

Discount ticket packages are now available for purchase. Packages, structured by age of children and by the number of shows the family wishes to see, are available on Imagination Stage’s website or by calling the box office at 301-280-1660. Single tickets go on sale on August 13 for Winnie the Pooh and A Cajun Red Riding Hood, and later for shows in 2025.  For additional info, contact Laurie Levy-Page.

2024/25 Season

Winnie the Pooh
From the stories of A.A. Milne
Dramatized by le Clanché du Rand
Music by Allan J. Friedman
Lyrics by A.A. Milne and Kristin Sergel

Directed by Christopher Michael Richardson
September 18 – October 27, 2024
Best for ages 3+

Everyone’s favorite bear from the 100 Acre Wood is surrounded by Christopher Robin, Piglet, Eeyore, Kanga, Roo, Rabbit, and Owl in this delightful and gentle musical. Set during one busy day, there’s a Heffalump to catch, Eeyore’s tail to find, and a misunderstanding between Rabbit and Kanga to sort out. In the end, friendship and understanding win the day.

A Cajun Red Riding Hood
Based on the book Petite Rouge by Mike Artell, illustrated by Jim Harris
Book, Music, and Lyrics by Joan Cushing
Directed by Nathaniel Claridad
December 11, 2024 – March 7, 2025
Best for ages 5+

A Cajun Red Riding Hood updates the classic tale, sending the plucky heroine—now a red-robed little duck—and her ‘fraidy cat friend TeJean on an adventurous journey through the bayou. Along the way the pair tangle with a Big Bad Gator, but Petite is no sitting duck and leads her nemesis on a merry Mardi Gras chase through New Orleans. A chorus of swamp dwellers sings backup to the Zydeco-driven songs in this foot-stomping musical.

Paper Dreams
Written and originally directed by Claudia Moreso, Mons Dansa Dance Company (Barcelona, Spain)
Directed by Kathryn Chase Bryer and Randy Snight
January 11 – February 16, 2025
Best for ages 1+

This charming and dreamy dance-based performance imagines two friends who live inside a wastepaper basket! Together they discover what imaginative ideas might unfold from a crumpled piece of paper. Can mistakes inspire our greatest ideas? DC Theater Arts called Paper Dreams “an enchanting production that…educates and entertains and sparks inquiry into the creative process for young and old alike.”

Mother Goose
Written by Janet Stanford
Directed by Kathryn Chase Bryer
March 1 – April 13, 2025
Best for Ages 1-5

Through innovative puppets, props, and original music, eight classic Mother Goose rhymes come gently and tunefully to life. The magical Mother Goose invites the children in the audience to join in with each rhyme’s story, teaching them that the very best way to do what needs to be done is to do it together. Among the rhymes the children will experience are “The Itsy Bitsy Spider,” “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” “Old King Cole,” and “Humpty Dumpty.”

Dory Fantasmagory
Based on the Book Dory Fantasmagory
© 2014 by Abby Hanlon
Originally published by Dial Books, an imprint of the Penguin Group
Used with permission of Pippin Properties, Inc.
By John Glore
Music by Deborah Wicks La Puma
Directed by Kathryn Chase Bryer
June 18 – August 3, 2025
Best for ages 5+

It’s tough being the youngest! Dory’s siblings won’t play with her and there are monsters to battle all over the house, like the hair-raising Mrs. Gobble Gracker. With the help of her fairy godfather, Mr. Nuggy, her monster-friend, Mary, and her mighty imagination, Dory sets out to win what she wants most: her family’s attention.


Imagination Stage, the DMV’s leader in youth development through the arts, is driven to build a generation of compassionate, collaborative young people who are capable of changing the world. Starting as an arts academy in Bethesda in 1979, it has responded to the evolving “needs of now” over the last 43 years by expanding its reach throughout Montgomery County and Washington, DC. Children from every socioeconomic group need experiences that teach empathy, demonstrate resilience, and inspire hope. Theater does just that. Beyond the classes, camps, and shows at its Bethesda location, Imagination Stage brings programming to over 50 locations per year in Montgomery County and DC, through partnerships with Montgomery County Public Schools, DC Public Schools and others. One such program is Theatre for Change. It serves teenagers, using theater productions and educational workshops to bridge cultural divides, lift up underrepresented voices, and explore complex social justice issues.


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