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Review: Off-Broadway's 'ImaginOcean' Offers Kids a Treat to Hear & "Sea"

About.com Rating 4 Star Rating


Review: Off-Broadway's 'ImaginOcean' Offers Kids a Treat to Hear &

John Tartaglia's Off-Broadway Kids' Show 'ImaginOcean'

John Tartaglia

The Bottom Line

ImaginOcean will entertain you and your kids with special effects and catchy songs. And with a moral of friendship being the greatest treasure, this show reinforces basic values all parents want to instill in their kids.

Wear clothes you don't mind getting sprayed with water and bubbles. And bring crayons or markers with you because the Playbill cover is actually a coloring page featuring Dorsal, Bubbles, and Tank.

Schedule your seats toward the center of the theatre and pick from one of the nap-friendly show times: 11 a.m., 12 noon, 2 p.m., 3 p.m., or 4:30pm on various days. There is no intermission.

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  • Brightly colored puppets that perform under cool black light.
  • Fun songs that engage the kids.
  • 50-minute long musical with several showtime options.
  • Sleek industrial interior design of New World Stages in steel and chartreuse.
  • Great moral to the story.


  • None.


  • John Tartaglia's ImaginOcean is a 50-minute musical featuring fish puppets who sing as they follow clues on a treasure hunt.
  • ImaginOcean is a special effects show under black light. Bubbles, water spray, and fog encourage the kids' participation.
  • Song styles include R&B, Big Band, and Swing.

Guide Review - Review: Off-Broadway's 'ImaginOcean' Offers Kids a Treat to Hear & "Sea"

From the moment the talking fish on the proscenium introduce the show, John Tartaglia's ImaginOcean is a delight for parents and children alike. At 50 minutes long, ImaginOcean's singing and swimming trio of finned friends goes on a journey through the sea to discover that the greatest treasure is friendship.

The lead characters, Dorsal, Bubbles, and Tank, find a treasure map and go in search of the proposed prize at the end. Along the way, they get separated and encounter new friends including jellyfish wearing sunglasses, a singing seahorse, dancing arrows, and a nervous pink octopus, albeit with 6 legs.

From the beginning, the kids in the audience are encouraged to use their imagination. During the show, the treasure-hunting trio finds their inner strength and courage, rounding out the personal journey as well as a geographical one.

In typical musical theatre format, the music styles suit the character in the moment and include R&B, Big Band, and Swing. Dorsal comically laments various music devices such as an obvious key change during a big musical number and a bass drum beat, commenting, "That can't be good."

The audience is encouraged to participate by answering the fish at times, reaching up for the bubbles from the bubble machine, and using their imagination. From the top of the show, the kids are told they -- and their imagination -- are the key to theatre magic.

Tony Award-nominated Broadway performer and veteran puppeteer, John Tartaglia created, wrote, and produced ImaginOcean, as well as sang on the show's accompaniment music tracks. Tartaglia appeared on Broadway in Avenue Q, The Beauty and the Beast, and Shrek the Musical. He worked on Sesame Street for a decade and created "Johnny and the Sprites" for Playhouse Disney.

A word of warning to parents: ImaginOcean is across the hallway from the very explicit Avenue Q, so make sure you're taking the kids to the correct puppet show. And for anyone who is sensitive to lighting and special effects, this show uses black light, strobe lights, water effects, a fogger, and a bubble machine.

ImaginOcean is currently playing in theatre 5 of New World Stages on 50th Street. Its black box interior is in high contrast to the sleek, industrial stainless steel and chartreuse glass of the New World Stages complex. However, this groovy environment is the perfect accompaniment to the cool special effects and catchy songs of John Tartaglia's ImaginOcean.

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