New Children's Theatre Launch BEYOND IMAGINATION

By: Jul. 22, 2016
Enter Your Email to Unlock This Article

Plus, get the best of BroadwayWorld delivered to your inbox, and unlimited access to our editorial content across the globe.

Existing user? Just click login.

Imagine Project, a brand new children's theatre company focusing on gender equity, diversity, and inclusion, will launch its new company with Beyond Imagination, a gala event on Sunday, August 21, 2016 from 5:00pm to 7:00pm at the Colony Theatre Company in Burbank, CA. Imagine Project will be the only union theatre company in Los Angeles dedicated solely to children's programming. The event is free and open to the public but RSVP registration is required at The evening will feature complimentary food, wine, live entertainment, and an auction. Dress code is "cocktail swanky." Actor Jeffrey Landman, best known as Billy Hill in the Halloween film franchise, will serve as MC for the gala. John Achorn, Karl Ramsey, and Juliette Storace, of the Commedia dell'Arte Studio Zanni, will also perform. The launch event will serve as a fundraiser for the New Theatre Company. Proceeds will be used to fund production costs for The Tale of Turandot by Armina LaManna, Imagine Project's inaugural production slated for early 2017.

"Interactive and theatrical experiences, like this, inspire kids to engage in physical play and roleplaying away from portable screens," says Alex Zonin, Imagine Project's co-producer. "This is something that parents will really connect with."

The gala event will take place in the lobby of the Colony Theatre Company located at 555 North Third Street, Burbank, CA 91502 (at the corner of Third Street & Cypress Avenue; 818-558-7000; Free parking is available adjacent to the building on two sides and underneath, in the parking garage. For more information on Imagine Project, please visit or call 818-649-9474. For more on the event, please see the Facebook event page here. RSVP via Space is limited so early registration is strongly encouraged.

The newly formed Imagine Project is noteworthy for being the only union theatre company dedicated entirely to children's programming in Los Angeles County and only one of three in the Western region. Although the county is home to ten million people, it did not have a professional union theatre company dedicated solely to children's programming prior to the genesis of Imagine Project.


Also to support the establishment of this much needed new theatrical organization for Los Angeles' young audiences, including its inaugural production The Tale of Turandot, Imagine Project will launch an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign, which will run from Monday, July 25, 2016 through Saturday, September 3, 2016 (visit on/after 7/25/16). Perks include Chinese string puppets, production posters signed by the cast and crew, VIP dinners/special events, signed scripts, and more. The campaign goal is to raise $20,000 for the new company. Proceeds will fund venue costs as well as mask and puppet design fees.

"Quality Live Theatre has a tremendous influence on the way our children interact with each other and the rest of the world, enhancing literary knowledge, tolerance, and empathy," says LaManna. "By investing in professional theatre dedicated to young audiences, which can serve to jar people out of their complacency through powerful storytelling, you make an investment not just in the arts, but also in these kids' and our community's future."


Imagine Project's inaugural production, The Tale of Turandot, is a modern theatrical puppetry experience, for kids from 4 to 94, which has been adapted by Armina LaManna from the classical Turandot story. The story is based on the tale of "Turan-Dokht" from the epic Haft Peykar (The Seven Beauties) work of the 12th century Persian poet Nizami. The centuries old story, perhaps best known as Puccini's final opera, is set in China and involves Prince Calaf, who falls in love with the "cold" Princess Turandot. To obtain permission to marry her, a suitor has to solve three riddles; any wrong answer results in death.

LaManna's modern adaptation, however, takes a new twist on the classic tale by reinterpreting events specifically from the perspective of Turandot, a young woman forced to get married at a very young age before she has had the chance to explore the world and herself. LaManna's Turandot, a multimedia Commedia dell'Arte experience incorporating Bunraku-inspired puppetry, video projections, original music, and many other creative elements, is slated for an early 2017 World Premiere at a Los Angeles area theatre. LaManna and Zonin will co-produce the innovative work.

LaManna's Turandot will feature the Diamond Patch Players, a playful traveling Commedia dell'Arte troupe, performing onstage with three Bunraku-inspired puppets. The physical world of the play (which will be told as a play within a play) will be realized in part by video projections for an extraordinary cross-genre multimedia experience. Original music is also being composed for the production. The entire production is designed to easily tour, allowing Imagine Project to present the production on stages throughout the Los Angeles area and beyond after the World Premiere.

"Our play focuses on Turandot's fight for choice and freedom - her struggles, dreams, and aspirations," says LaManna. "We selected this story for our inaugural production to encourage young children, particularly girls, to look at the many opportunities that are available to them in this world."

The Diamond Patch Players

Many Imagine Project productions, including the inaugural The Tale of Turandot, will feature the Diamond Patch Players. The fictional traveling Commedia dell'Arte troupe players are made up of the stock Commedia characters: Colombina, Arlecchino, Pantalone, Brighella, Isabella, and Smeraldina. In each Imagine Project production, these characters will tell different stories, often each playing multiple roles, to young audiences.

The Tale of Turandot Key Credits

• Writer & Director - Armina LaManna (Member SDC, AEA & DG)

• Co-Producer - Armina LaManna

• Co-Producer - Alex Zonin

• Set Designer - Tom Buderwitz (Member USA829)

• Costume Designer - Dianne Graebner (Member USA829)

• Mask & Puppet Designer - Aaron Cromie


Armina LaManna, Founder of Imagine Project/Company Co-Producer -

LaManna began her stage career at the age of six in the former USSR. Directing experience includes: A Woman of No Importance at SacRed Fools; The Maidsat ECT; Little Armenia at The Fountain Theatre; Who's Your Baghdaddy?, Red Light Winter, and Pushkin at Boldino all at The Chance Theater's On the Radar;We Wait at Moving Arts (Car Plays); Fast & Loose at SacRed Fools; The Caucasian Chalk Circle, A Lie of the Mind, The Zoo Story, and Hello Out There all at Temple Theaters; and Pushkin at Boldino at the Philly Fringe Festival. LaManna is the author of Pushkin at Boldino; she also translated and adapted Gogol'sThe Government Inspector for The Lantern Theater. LaManna was the producer of Pushkin at Boldino at the Philly Fringe Festival and the co-producer for the above-mentioned The Maids and Little Armenia in Los Angeles. She was the recipient of the Samuel S. Fels Fund Dramaturgy Internship in 2007 and an invited lecturer on American plays at the Arlekin Theatre in Moscow, Russia in 2008. LaManna is a member of SDC, AEA, and DG. She holds an MFA in Directing from Temple University.

Alex Zonin, Company Co-Producer -

Alex Zonin started his acting career at the age of five in a Russian film called That Man We Call Friend. His theatrical career began shortly after, when at the age of six, he was writing, directing, producing, and acting in a sci-fi play with his kindergarten friends. A few years later, his theatrical career evolved into the leading role in the play Nurse, sharing the stage of the Central Academic Theatre of the Russian Army in Moscow with N.I. Pastukhov and S.A. Sadkovskaya. His professional career in television and VFX postproduction began over two decades ago. Zonin went on to start his own advertising agency as well as a web and media development company. He holds a degree in Computer Graphics and Animation from the Russian State University of Cinematography.

Imagine Project

Based in Glendale, CA, Imagine Project is dedicated to producing theatrical experiences for young audiences. By telling relevant stories and dynamically engaging with today's youth, the organization seeks to inspire creativity, insight, and courage. Imagine Project is committed to: 1) Telling stories with modern messages, with an emphasis on gender equity, diversity, and inclusion; 2) Hiring union talent and paying artists real wages; 3) Casting and hiring artists that are representative of the diverse population of our city, including artists with disabilities; and 4) Developing programs that also reflect the voices of the underserved members of the community.

Imagine Project began as an answer to a request from members of the former Soviet diaspora in Los Angeles. Founder Armina LaManna, who was born in Soviet Armenia where she spent much of her childhood, has been asked for several years to recreate Soviet/Eastern European childhood traditions, specifically children's puppetry theatre. The large former Soviet diaspora is a part of Imagine Project's targeted audience. Projects are developed, in part, to embrace the culture's theatre-going tradition, a right of passage in the former USSR as well as many European countries, for the benefit of ALL children in the Los Angeles community.

Imagine Project is a sponsored project of Fractured Atlas, a non-profit arts organization. Contributions for the charitable purposes of Imagine Project must be payable to Fractured Atlas only and are tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law. The company intends to incorporate as a non-profit once the inaugural production introduces the company to the public.


• Imagine Project Official Site -

Beyond Imagination Tickets -

Beyond Imagination FB Event Page -

• Imagine Project Facebook Page -

• Imagine Project Twitter -

• Indiegogo Campaign -

• The Colony Theatre Company -


To post a comment, you must register and login.