Six public performances will empower girls and transfix boys ages six and up from November 5 through November 18.

By: Sep. 28, 2022

A young peasant woman becomes a warrior who saves her entire kingdom in a new, family-friendly musical inspired by an Armenian fairy tale. Imagine Theatre presents the world premiere of Warrior Queen Anahit the Brave, written and directed by Armina LaManna and featuring original music by Shahen Hagobian. Six public performances will empower girls and transfix boys ages six and up from November 5 through November 18 at the Colony Theatre in Burbank, with an additional ten performances available for school field trips.

Filled with song, multi-media, interactive elements and spectacle, Warrior Queen reinvents Ghazaros Aghayan's 1881 fable "Anahit" to powerfully recount the transformation of a young, peasant rug weaver to sword-wielding Queen of the Armenian Highlands.

Ani Marderosian stars as the peasant girl who first catches the eye of Prince Vachagan (Nathan Mohebbi) while she and BFFs Nairi (Christianne Holly Santiago) and Maral (Sophia Vitello) draw water at a nearby spring. Kyle Caldwell portrays Vachagan's best bud, Arman, and the role of the evil villain, Apep - inspired by the Egyptian serpent god of chaos and destruction - is played by Alistair McKenzie.

"The dark force, the antagonist in the play, is the demon Apep," explains LaManna. "He is fierce, but he also provides comic relief and is a fantastic rapper. His magical transformation into a five-foot gold serpent at the end of the play is epic. The kids will lose their minds!"

The multiple award-winning creative team includes master puppet designer and fabricator Douglas Wright; scenic and projection designer Tom Buderwitz; lighting designer Josh Epstein; sound designer Joseph "Sloe" Slawinski; costume designer Dianne K. Graebner; and properties designer Jenine MacDonald. The musical director is Elizabeth Curtin, and the production stage manager is Elna Kordjian. Warrior Queen is produced by Laura Hill and Gabrieal Griego.

An Equity company dedicated solely to producing original and relevant theater for young audiences, Imagine Theatre strives to build an empathetic and inclusive society across cultures by immersing young people in theater that celebrates gender equity, diversity and civic engagement.

"Imagine is dedicated to spotlighting female heroes in relevant stories derived from the rich cultural fabric of Los Angeles County," says LaManna. "In this production, we focus on Armenian culture-not only in the story, but with costumes, set and music."

"We want to establish Imagine as Los Angeles' flagship theater for family programming," state Hill and Griego. "This kind of theater is indispensable in shaping the way our children connect to each other and to the rest of society."

The company's founding artistic director, LaManna previously directed Imagine's critically acclaimed debut production, The Tale of Turandot in 2019. A modern and innovative theatrical puppetry experience with original music, the production was featured on the KTLA-TV Morning Show. Arts Beat LA called it "enchanting" and "powerful," noting the "clear message of feminism and female empowerment." LaManna's other directing credits include The Gospel According to Thomas Jefferson, Charles Dickens & Count Leo Tolstoy: Discord at The Lantern Theatre; Fool for Love at Crescent Moon Entertainment, A Woman of No Importance and Fast & Loose at Sacred Fools; Fair at OC-Centric New Play Festival; The Maids at ETC; Little Armenia at The Fountain Theatre; Who's Your Baghdaddy?, Red Light Winter and Pushkin at Boldino, all at Chance Theatre's On the Radar; We Wait at Moving Arts (Car Plays); The Caucasian Chalk Circle, A Lie of the Mind, The Zoo Story and Hello Out There at Temple Theatres; and Pushkin at Boldino at the Philly Fringe Festival. Originally from the former USSR, LaManna is the author of Pushkin at Boldino. She also translated and adapted Gogol's The Government Inspector for the Lantern Theatre, Strindberg's The Ghost Sonata and Chekhov's The Cherry Orchard. She is the recipient of the Samuel Fels Fund Dramaturgy Internship, an invited lecturer of American plays at the Arlekin Theatre in Moscow, Russia, and one of the recipients of the Outstanding Women of 2019 Honor from the Armenian American Chamber of Commerce. Armina is a member of SDC, AEA, and DG, and is an adjunct professor of theater at Glendale Community College. She holds an MFA in directing from Temple University.

Warrior Queen Anahit the Brave will receive six public performances: Saturday, November 5 at 7 p.m.; Sunday, November 6 at 4 p.m.; Friday, November 11 at 7 p.m.; Saturday, November 12 at 7 p.m.; Sunday, November 13 at 4 p.m.; and Friday, November 18 at 7 p.m. Ten additional performances on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays at 9:15 a.m. and 12 p.m. are available for school field trips; email smat@imaginetheatreca.org for more information.

The Colony Theatre is located in Burbank Town Center at 555 N 3rd St. Burbank, CA 91502. Parking is free in the attached Burbank Town Center parking structure. Tickets are $30 for adults and $20 for kids ages 12 and under. Group and other discounts are also available.