The historic Fletcher Hall at Carolina Theatre hosted John Tartaglia‘s brand-new children’s musical, ImagineOcean, this past Tuesday. It happens to be a creative black-light puppet musical. Tank, bubbles, and Dorsel are all friends who take the audience along on their journey to explore the magical wonders of the sea. These three friends discover a treasure map after losing their ball, and this map takes them on a journey they will never forget. However, these best friends find that the real treasure is something they’ve had all along: friendship.

Fletcher Hall was bustling with anticipation before the show from the little ones in the audience, and as the show began and the black-lights illuminated the falling bubbles, the children and their parents let out sounds of amazement. Although the chatter never completely ceased, the children and parents were in constant amazement at the bright colors dancing before their eyes.

Tartaglia is not new to theatre. He was nominated for a Tony-Award for his performance in Avenue Q, and he has appeared in Shrek the Musical (2008) and Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. Although he is appearing on a different side of the stage in this show, his work was no less than stellar. Tartaglia’s black-light spectacular is an ingenious way of new entertainment.

The fluorescent cast, designed by Puppet Kitchen, comprised dancing jellyfish, a seahorse, a bubbly octopus, Bubbles, Tank, and Dorsel (who is quite the cautious character), as well as an electric eel. (Dorsel was voiced by David Colston Corris, Tank by Jonathan Carlucci, and Bubbles by Haley Jenkins.) These fantastically animated characters were expertly maneuvered throughout this underwater adventure.

Robert Andrew Kovach, responsible for the scenic design, did an excellent job of incorporating all things shiny and fluorescent. These attributes of the set illuminated the smiles on all the little faces and the parents’ faces as well: they were all certainly fascinated with how these objects seem to be floating around.

The music in William Wade’s score incorporates jazz into the musical in the “Jellyfish Jive” and the upbeat catchy tune “On Our Way,” tunes that left the audience grooving.

Some members of the audiences may have been slightly familiar with raunchiness of Avenue Q, but there is no naughty humor in ImagineOcean, a fifty-minute show that teaches children the treasure of friendship and that using the imagination can be a fun experience.

Note: Carolina Theatre presents a wide array of programs for young people. For details, see our calendar.