Imagination Stage at in 4908 Auburn Ave Bethesda have announced details for their latest play, S.P.I.E.S. 2: Flight of the Hawk, which they describe as an “immersive, live theatrical experience.” Per Imagination Stage:
“Imagination Stage™, the metro DC region’s largest professional theatre for children, debuts S.P.I.E.S. 2: Flight of the Hawk from October 29-November 20. The show, in Imagination Stage’s intimate Reeve Studio Theatre, incorporates multimedia, interactive puzzles, and laugh-out-loud improvisation as audiences choose their own adventure–all in the name of helping elite Spy Team 7 save the world. Watch a video preview. (Reviewers are invited to Opening Night, October 29 at 7:00.)
S.P.I.E.S. 2: Flight of the Hawk is the follow-up to S.P.I.E.S. & The Lost Treasure of Atlantis, which was an online hit for Imagination Stage in the winter of 2021. DC Theatre Arts praised it as “a fantastically entertaining conglomerate of action, adventure, suspense, and pure silliness.”
The new adventure (which doesn’t require any knowledge of the first one) is now in-person, with the live audience of children ages 5+ taking on the role of spy cadets being taught by the hilariously bungling live facilitator, Pat. During the cadet training, Pat is contacted and told that an award ceremony for Spy Team 7 has gone awry with the villainous Winnifred Veil putting in motion her plan to dominate the world. It’s Pat and the cadets to the rescue, providing key information and making crucial decisions to assist the spies, who are beaming in on the big screen.
The suspenseful, action-packed filmed segments interact seamlessly with the live action in the theatre, making for a uniquely original and engaging experience. Think “escape room” for children ages 5-10: the stakes are high, but so is the fun quotient. Janet Stanford, Imagination Stage’s Founding Artistic Director, commissioned theatre maker Strother Gaines and filmmaker Jeffrey Eagle to return for their second collaboration, along with script writer Doug Robinson.
Gaines emphasizes that the show has “kids being in control of this adventure. The facilitator character guides them through the choices, but at the end of the day, the kids are in charge.” He enjoyed researching the STEM-focused puzzles and problems the kids will be tasked with solving, and especially loves that it will happen in person, collaboratively, in the theatre. “We recognize that, post-pandemic, kids are re-learning how to be with each other in a group and work together. Each child will choose their way to contribute to the action, whether from their seat or by volunteering to work with Pat on the stage.”
Eagle loves “this amazing intersection of theatre and film and seeing the project evolve from an online adventure to a totally immersive and live experience. The cast, the sets, the stories, the stunts, the mission–everything is just BIGGER!” And Stanford appreciates that “all 5-10 year-olds can be at the center of a spy story–decoding, problem solving, and ultimately saving the day! This show will send kids home feeling empowered.”
Imagination Stage has a tremendous track record in creating new theatre works for children, and the addition of filmed storytelling is an exciting evolution. Imagination Stage Managing Director, Jason Najjoum, says that “the integration of digital content is something that Imagination Stage pivoted to successfully during the pandemic. With the S.P.I.E.S. series having such sophisticated filmed elements, we envision the shows appealing to other theatres as novel and exciting works that can be mounted relatively easily.”
S.P.I.E.S. 2: Flight of the Hawk has performances Saturday at 11:00 and Sunday 11:00 and 1:00 from October 29-November 20. Groups can schedule private performances, such as a birthday party, on Friday or Saturday evening. Halloween weekend, October 29 and 30, will see extra fun and (non-food) treats. Children are encouraged to come dressed as spies or in other Halloween costumes.
The show is best for ages 5+, and tickets are $25 and are available online at imaginationstage.org or at 301-280-1660. Imagination Stage is at 4908 Auburn Avenue in Bethesda.
Next up at Imagination Stage is Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed: The Rock Experience. Based on the book by Mo Willems, the musical plays November 16-January 8 and is best for ages 4-10.