TIME OUT NEW YORK Theater Review: “IMAGINE” **** (4 stars)

By Kristen A. Lee, Contributing Critic : 

The cast of Billy Elliot isn’t the only group of young artists who should be celebrated this year. For a reminder about the power of theater to do good in the world, bring your kids (or a friend’s) to support the fledgling performers and playwrights behind Imagine. The Imagine Project is a not-for-profit organization that teaches disadvantaged children to express themselves through improvisation and song. According to director of administration Carey Davidson, the kids in this production come from a variety of backgrounds, but many live in a family shelter in Brooklyn. This brilliant and delightful show, which clocks in at under an hour, is a loose collection of skits and songs created by the kids, who range in age from 7 to 14. Some deal with universal childhood problems, like boredom and jealousy, while others are more nonsensical. Most of the kids are not trained actors or singers, but director Bill Bartlett, who founded the group twenty years ago, taps into their natural talent and comedic ability for an unforgettable performance. There is to my knowledge no other performance group like this in the city. The depth of feeling, originality and creative staging, along with the professional level of the music and performances make “Imagine” a must see for youngsters, their families, and all who care about the beauty and magic of childhood .