Review: Bikini Bottom Is Tops In ‘SpongeBob SquarePants the Musical’
By Megan Wrappe, Contributing Writer, December 5, 2017
Walking into the Palace Theatre recently, I had no idea what to expect from SpongeBob SquarePants the Musical. I grew up watching the cartoon series, but I wasn’t sure how it would translate to the stage. After seeing the show, lets just say I was pleasantly surprised.
The first item of note was the color scheme the design team of David Zinn (scenery and costumes), Kevin Adams (lighting) and Peter Nigrini (projections) have dreamed up. From orange, yellow, and blue pipes on the sides of the stage, to pink and yellow neon flower lights, you really do feel like you’re in Bikini Bottom under the sea—and anyone who knows the cartoon series knows that Bikini Bottom is all about color. The costumes for all the characters pop, thanks again to designs by David Zinn, who has miraculously made SpongeBob come to life without putting any actors in large foam-heads shaped like a square, star, or crab.
In the cartoon series, SpongeBob essentially lives out his daily life working at the fast food joint run by his boss, Mr. Krabs. SpongeBob and his best friend Patrick plan certain shenanigans and getting themselves into trouble, with their other friend, Sandy Cheeks, sometimes having to bail them out. Added to the mix is always the evil-doer Plankton concocting some scheme or another to take over The Krusty Krab. These primary plot points, and more, have been carried over into the Broadway production.
The show opens with Spongebob (Ethan Slater), Patrick (Danny Skinner), and Sandy (Lilli Cooper) waking up to a beautiful Bikini Bottom day, but then they feel the ground shake. Nearby Mount Humongous has decided to start erupting, and there’s nothing anyone in Bikini Bottom can do. So naturally, they all break into chaos. But, Spongebob has a plan, which of course, Sandy and Patrick help him with. They decide to climb Mount Humongous and place a bubble machine Sandy made into the volcano to keep it from erupting. Along the way, the trio is plagued by Plankton (Wesley Taylor) and his computer wife, Karen (Stephanie Hsu), making trouble by turning the townspeople against each other. Topping it all off, Mr. Krabs (Brian Ray Norris) is naturally trying to make money off of the eruption which his daughter Pearl (Jai’ Len Christine Li Josey) isn’t too happy about, since all she wants is see her idols, The Electric Skates (L’Ogan J’Ones, Kyle Matthew Hamilton, and Curtis Holbrook) perform in a concert being put together by Squidward (Gavin Lee) to raise money to save the town. But somehow, someway, Spongebob manages to force everyone to stop ganging up on each other and work together to save their beloved town.
The list of songwriters providing the score to the show is fairly remarkable, with artists as diverse as Sara Bareilles, David Bowie, Cyndi Lauper, Aerosmith, Lady Antebellum, and John Legend contributing their work. While not the most dramatic or thought provoking musical imaginable, it is certainly a fun show to attend and be completely entertained while being transported into the wacky world of Bikini Bottom. If you enjoy SpongeBob on the small screen, then you’ll want to see the magic of theater bring all your favorite characters to life singing and dancing onstage.
SpongeBob SquarePants the Musical at the Palace Theatre at 47th Street and Broadway. Book by Kyle Jarrow; original music by Alex Ebert, Cyndi Lauper, David Bowie, Joe Perry, John Legend, Jonathan Coulton, Lady Antebellum, Panic! At the Disco, Plain White T’s, Sara Bareilles, Steven Tyler, T.I., The Flaming Lips, They Might Be Giants. Directed by Tina Landau; music supervision, arrangements and orchestrations by Tom Kitt; choreography by Christopher Gattelli; scenic and costume design by David Zinn; lighting design by Kevin Adams; projection design by Peter Nigrini; sound design by Walter Trarbach; hair and wig design by Charles G. LaPointe; make-up design by Joe Dulude II; foley design by Mike Dobson; music direction by Julie McBride.
Cast: Ethan Slater, Gavin Lee, Lilli Cooper, Brian Ray Norris, Danny Skinner, Wesley Taylor, Alex Gibson, Gaelen Gilliland, Juliane Godfrey, Kyle Matthew Hamilton, Curtis Holbrook, Stephanie Hsu, Jesse Jp Johnson, L’ogan J’ones, Jai’len Christine Li Josey, Kelvin Moon Loh, Lauralyn Mcclelland, Vasthy Mompoint, Oneika Phillips, Jon Rua, Jc Schuster, Abby C. Smith, Robert Taylor Jr., Allan K. Washington, Brynn Williams, Matt Wood.
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Cover: Ethan Slater and the company of ‘SpongeBob SquarePants the Musical;’ photo: Joan Marcus.