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A newly-commissioned, made-for-the-virtual-world immersive online experience opens February 13, 2021.


For its second foray into the world of virtual theatre, Imagination Stage meets this unique moment with Spy Academy & the Lost Treasure of Atlantis, an immersive online experience 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. Janet Stanford, Imagination Stage's Producing Artistic Director, commissioned Strother Gaines and Jeffrey Eagle, two acclaimed producers of digital content, to create Spy Academy, in collaboration with writer Doug Robinson. Spy Academy & the Lost Treasure of Atlantis runs February 13, 2021 - May 23, 2021; reviewers are invited to attend beginning February 13.

The audience--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. 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.)

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. The cast includes Edima Essien, Danielle Gallo, Jasmine Jones, Miss Kitty, and Ryan Sellers.

Spy Academy is the newest of more than 50 works commissioned by Janet Stanford at Imagination Stage over the past 20 years. Stanford says that, "as a theatre organization, we are all about storytelling and empowering our child audience. In Spy Academy, we combine the fun of compelling characters in a fantasy situation with an interactive experience that cannot happen without the kids' participation." She emphasizes that, "Spy Academy is for every child who loves problem solving, gaming, and fantasy/adventure stories."

Strother Gaines, who conceived and co-directed Spy Academy, is the Producing Artistic Director and founder of DC's only Immersive Experiential Design Company, "TBD Immersive." His idea for Spy Academy was inspired by "kids being in control of this adventure--especially at a time when they can feel so isolated and not in control. We're blending the artforms of theatre, film, and gaming in the virtual space and giving them both interactivity and autonomy." Gaines continues, "The facilitator character guides them through the choices, but at the end of the day, the kids are in charge." You can hear his TEDx Mid-Atlantic Festival talk about storytelling here.

Co-director and producer Jeffrey Eagle heads Leapfrog Productions, based in Rockville. He is an award-winning filmmaker who has worked across traditional, digital, and social media for over 20 years.

Spy Academy & the Lost Treasures of Atlantis runs from February 13, 2021 - May 23, 2021, fully online. Tickets are $25 per household and are available online at or via phone at 301-280-1660. Birthday parties and other groups of 10 or more can reserve their own private performances.


Spy Academy & the Lost Treasures of Atlantis

Conceived by Strother Gaines
Written by Doug Robinson

Directed and Produced by Jeffrey Eagle

Best for ages 5+

Calling all spy cadets: our madcap team of expert spies needs YOU to help save the day and find the lost treasure of Atlantis! Full of surprises, fun, and memorable characters, each performance of Spy Academy takes a small number of families through a series of puzzles, codes, and challenges on a quest to recover the stolen Heart of the Dragon. Part online escape room, part interactive game, this creative and immersive theatrical experience is a live virtual event perfect for ages 5+.


Edima Essien..............Newscaster

Danielle Gallo.............Tank
Amanda Haddock.........Facilitator
Jasmine Jones.............Facilitator (Swing)

Miss Kitty..................Specs
Matthew Pauli............Facilitator

Ryan Sellers...............Levinious/Locksmith

Strother Gaines..........Concept and Co-Director

Doug Robinson...........Playwright
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


February 13, 2021 - May 23, 2021

Saturday and Sundays at 11:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m.

Tickets: $25 per household. Best for ages 5+


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