I wish I was a talking fish. Because as John Tartaglia’s ImaginOcean proves immediately, nothing silences fidgety, boisterous children like a talking fish, even if it’s ”singing out of tuna.” Tartaglia (an original star of the 2003 Tony winner Avenue Q) and his crew bring the magic of 21st-century puppetry to the deep sea in this kid-oriented musical, playing at Off Broadway’s New World Stages exclusively in matinees. The addition of black-light effects transforms the 50-minute show into something entirely unique. Three talking fish — Dorsel, Bubbles, and Tank, most voiced by Tartaglia — convincingly ”swim” across the stage in their hunt for treasure. Dorsel is afraid of everything, especially drum beats and musical key changes; Bubbles is the heart of the trio; Tank is the muscle. Together, they face their fears and learn the true bonds of friendship.
The artistry in assigning a distinct and (I presume) zoologically accurate swimming style to each fish is beyond impressive. While youngsters will never give it a second thought, their parents will spend the hour wondering how the invisible puppeteers manage the more complicated choreography. The six musical numbers are delightful, though the children might not be singing the so-so songs to themselves on the ride home. It’s the visual, fully 3-D splendor that will keep the audience — young and old — entranced, some even hoping to hold their breath in this brilliant underwater world for longer than 50 minutes. B+
(Tickets: Telecharge.com or 800.432.7250)