Imaginary musical logo, gold on blue background

Imaginary

Full-length
TYA
9F, 8M, 4 Flex
School, Community & Youth Theatres

Overview

IMAGINARY is an exciting, funny and inspiring musical about the wonder of childhood, the power of the imagination and what it means to grow up.

Milo is Sam’s only friend and they spend all their time together, using only their imaginations to transform their world into a place of adventure and excitement. But as Sam’s first day at a new school approaches, his mother worries that Milo is holding her son back, stopping him from growing up. School turns out to be full of surprises– and secrets. With a cast of adults and kids, IMAGINARY centers on an enduring friendship with other-worldly twists and turns that change lives forever.

Casting & Production

Casting

Kids: 9 female, 8 male and 4 gender flexible featured roles

Expandable ensemble with featured solos and lines

Adults: 6 women, 7 men (some roles are gender flexible) plus ensemble

Sam – 11/12 years old (but – depending on the production – could be played by an older actor). The role of Sam can be either male or female. Clever, brave and loyal, he/she has an active imagination. Sam is close to his/her mum but is reaching the age where he/she is embarrassed by shows of affection from her. A bit timid when we first meet Sam, he/she becomes more daring and truly heroic as our story progresses.

Milo – Sam’s best friend. The role of Milo can be either male or female, and because Milo is actually Sam’s imaginary friend, Milo could be the same age as Sam or any age. Milo is a little less mature than Sam, more mischievous and irresponsible. He/she feeds Sam’s imaginative life and often leads Sam astray. As is revealed towards the end of Act One, Milo is Sam’s imaginary friend, so in a sense, Milo is who Sam wishes he/she could be but isn’t brave enough for – at the beginning of our story at least. Milo, too, matures as the story develops.

Alice – Same age as Sam and Milo, a girl in Sam’s year at his new school. Alice is strong, brave and serious. The Headmaster’s “upgrading” technique has turned her beloved sister Jess into an unfeeling robot of a girl, so Alice is shut off emotionally from the other children, bitter and untrusting – at least at first. When she realises Sam will stick by her, she reveals her kinder, more vulnerable side.

Their Classmates

Dexter – A friendly, happy boy who is very much at ease with knowing that he’s not very smart. Simple tasks – such as tying his shoelaces – defeat him, but he has a lot of charm.

Grace – A good girl, clever, hardworking and serious. Finds breaking school rules very difficult, even when she knows she has to – but can be very brave.

Harvey – The cool kid. Confident, charming, charismatic – but not very academic.

Helen – The shy girl, nervous about going to the new school. Good-hearted but quiet.

The New Kids – Classmates of the above.

The Big Kids – All have been transformed by the Headmaster’s “upgrading” technique into robot-like drones, who move and think in a rigidly controlled manner.

Jess – One of the Big Kids. Alice’s older sister. We first see her as the poster girl for “upgrading”: severe, serious, unfeeling, hostile. But Alice’s memory of her offers us a glimpse of the girl she used to be, creative, guitar-playing and loving.

The Parents

Beth – Sam’s mother. A single mother, she’s done everything she can to make Sam’s life interesting and colourful – despite there not being much money about. At the beginning of the story, she and Sam have just moved out of their small flat and into a little house, so things are looking up economically, but she worries that Sam is stuck emotionally – he still has an imaginary friend, even though he’s old enough for secondary school – and she blames herself for indulging his taste for fantasy and daydreaming.

Flick – Dexter’s mum. Loving but despairing about her son’s inability to perform basic tasks, she’s sending him to this school because she’s heard how they get amazing exam results out of even the most unpromising students.

Liam and Marco – Grace’s dads. Very proud indeed of their academically gifted daughter but also rather emotional about her first day at secondary school. She’s very relaxed about it, they’re the ones feeling the separation anxiety.

Tony – Harvey’s dad. An important corporate boss. Very strait-laced and disciplined. Cares a lot about results.

Tash – Helen’s mum. Caring but perhaps a little exasperated by her daughter’s shyness.

The Staff

The Headmaster – 45 years old. Brilliant, charismatic and megalomaniac, the Headmaster is an evil genius who has developed an “upgrading” technique that removes the imagination from his students, and so enables them to pass exams with machine-like efficiency. This, he hopes, will eventually result in world domination. He had an unhappy childhood, as we see when we flashback to the Boy Headmaster – a miniature version of his older self. His parents encouraged his inventing but then broke his heart when they told him that his best friend was imaginary. In love with – or at least, strangely drawn to – Miss Stoker.

Miss Stoker – The I.T. teacher. Cold-hearted and ruthless, and admiringly in love with the Headmaster.

Dr Goole – The Mathematics teacher. Evil, like his colleagues, the only thing he regrets about the Headmaster’s “upgrading” is that the pupils are never naughty, and so cannot be punished.

Frau Rammstein – The Business Studies teacher. A scary, Wagnerian person, she speaks with a heavy German accent.

Mr Gruntt – The P.E. Teacher. As his name suggests, Gruntt cannot speak – he communicates in grunts that we, the audience, don’t understand, but that the other teachers somehow seem to understand perfectly. As the story develops, we realise that what he’s trying to say every time is “Oogie”, which is the name of his long-lost imaginary friend. During “upgrading” sessions, Gruntt assists the Headmaster, playing Igor to his Frankenstein. Reunited with Oogie, he repents and reveals his good side.

The Minister of Education – Charming, devious and utterly unreliable. A future Prime Minister.

The “IFs” or Imaginary Friends

Big Brenda – The weirdest, craziest-looking creature you’ve ever seen, there is no doubt that Brenda was the product of a child’s very fertile imagination. Initially charming and motherly – and presiding over an Imaginary Land that is one long party – we later discover that she rules Imaginary Land with a rod of iron – locking the gates that separate it from the real world, and making all newly-arrived IFs forget their human friends. We learn this is because she was once the Boy Headmaster’s IF, but they fell out and he punished her by transforming her from Brenda Jr – a human-looking child – into the monstrously improbable creature she is today. Female, but could be played by a male actor, in the English “Pantomime Dame” tradition.

The Brendettes – Big Brenda’s henchpersons and backing singers. Cool, superior and fabulous.

Oogie – The one rebel in Imaginary Land. Oogie is an IF who has refused to forget his human friend. He lives in hope of his friend communicating with him, and so has stayed by the large telephone that the humans can use to call their IFs back into their lives. Alas, the phone has not rung in all the many, many years since Oogie arrived and his faith is beginning to run out. But he’s an irrepressible character – quick to embrace hope and eager to do anything to help Milo, his new best friend.

Chutney, Mutley and Frank – Three IF friends

Orchestral Information

10 Musicians

Conductor/Keyboard 1

Keyboard 2

Reed (Alto Sax, Clarinet In Bb, flute, piccolo, Bass Clarinet)

Trumpet (Trumpet, Flugelhorn, Pic. Trumpet)

Trombone (Tenor, Bass)

Guitar (Electric, Acoustic)

Violin

Cello

Double Bass (Electric, Acoustic)

Percussion (Drum Kit, Glock, Triangle, Wood Block, Shaker, Mark Tree, Timpani)

Credits

IMAGINARY

Book & Lyrics by TIMOTHY KNAPMAN

Music & Lyrics by STUART MATTHEW PRICE

Commissioned and produced by National Youth Music Theatre and first performed 9 August 2017 at The Other Palace, London.

Upcoming Productions

Mar 07Jun 24, 2024
Brighton College Abu Dhabi
Abu Dhabi, UAE
Jun 07Jul 29, 2024
The Unitiive Theatre and Performing Arts School
Longmont, CO

View All Upcoming Productions

Resources

Transposition Express - TRW Musicals
BookTix Logo for TRW Musicals