The SpongeBob Musical

Who lives in a pineapple on a tour of the UK? Well it’s Nickelodeon's The SpongeBob Musical based on the cartoon series by Stephen Hillenberg. This musical is the result of a collaborative effort of artists such as John Legend, Panic! At The Disco and David Bowie, with additional lyrics and music by Jonathan Coulton and Tom Kitt respectively. Under the direction of Tara Overfield Wilkinson this musical keeps in the spirit of the cartoon whilst creating its own tornado of hyperactivity and joyful spirit in the auditorium.

Tornado of hyperactivity and joyful spirit

Travel under the sea to Bikini Bottom where SpongeBob SquarePants (Lewis Cornay) lives in a pineapple and spends his day working at the Krusty Krab and hanging out with his BFFF Patrick Star (Irfan Damani). His routine is interrupted when Mount Humongous threatens to erupt, destroying Bikini Bottom. Together with Patrick, Sandy Cheeks (Chrissie Bhima) - the town’s local scientist and resident squirrel - SpongeBob races to save the town whilst Sheldon J. Plankton (Divina de Campo) uses the crisis to try and enact one of their evil schemes. There’s a lot of nostalgia whilst watching The Spongebob Musical, but with Overfield Wilkinson’s direction this doesn’t overspill into sadness or longing, but rather a positive bittersweetness as we’re able to enjoy a tenet of our childhood media consumption with new eyes. There’s something in this musical for everyone from its high stakes plot to the odd political satirical comment amongst the vibrancy of Bikini Bottom and its denizens.

Every effort has been taken to recreate Spongebob Squarepants onstage, and the level of detail in every aspect of this musical is astonishing to the point where it appears as if the creative team has gone out of their way to trigger and lead us down memory lane to when we ourselves may have watched Spongebob’s antics. If it’s in the cartoon, the creative team have recreated it onstage. The best example of this is Ben Harrison’s sound design which adds to the overall comedy in The Spongebob Musical exponentially. The live-sound effects play an important role in incorporating more cartoonishness in the musical in the light-hearted relief that it brings. Steve Howell’s set design finds a way to be lightweight and easily manoeuvrable -necessary for a tour - but also takes into account The Spongebob Musical’s staging which scenes more often than not need to be able to accommodate the entire cast. It balances its cartoonish nature with functionality, drawing inspiration from the cartoon as far as realistic methods allow. Like the plot, the set incorporates current issues, just enough to provide food for thought. This is best exemplified in the volcano - Mount Humongous - whose plastic bottles which does closely resemble the bumpy and uneven terrain of an actual volcano under Ben Bull’s lighting design. However, after noticing this detail it is difficult to shake the all too possible implication that even Bikini Bottom did not escape the damage humanity has inflicted on the environment. It’s a great example of the multiple layers of meaning in every part of this musical and how it caters to everyone; on one hand it’s the Spongebob Squarepants that we all know and love but there’s an additional maturity directed to fans of the cartoon who have grown up. There are different levels of ingenuity in Sarah Mercadé’s design because in addition to just dressing the characters in their iconic outfits, but also go so far as to build the sea creatures themselves. She keeps to the spirit of each character’s outfits whilst adding her own twist, whether it’s adding a small detail in the form of an additional pattern or just the fabric she uses, adding additional layers of appreciation and understanding of these characters.

This musical is incredibly character-driven and the cast’s awareness and execution of each role is impeccable and precise. We really couldn’t ask for a better Spongebob than Cornay. He truly becomes the character, not only from his mannerisms or affected voice, but the way he just radiates optimism throughout the show, even during (Just a) Simple Sponge, an ‘I Want’ song that really shows the depths that this musical is willing to dive into.

The Spongebob Musical is a love-letter to the source material which is clear in every inside joke and callback - both the actors and the creative team care so much and have put in a lot of effort to do the cartoon justice. It’s the perfect marriage between musical and cartoon; there’s a clear utilisation of musical theatre trope and style whilst still embracing the whimsical nature of the source material. It’s hard to fully describe the feelings of delight and reminiscence this musical evokes, but it’s safe to say that with this tour, Overfield Wilkinson has ushered Spongebob Squarepants into a new age.

Reviews by Katerina Partolina Schwartz

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The Blurb

Who lives in a pineapple under the sea and became the hottest star on Broadway? It's SpongeBob SquarePants, in an all-singing, all-dancing, dynamic stage show!

He’s ready to ride the wave to the Southbank Centre to entertain and delight audiences in this brilliant, bright, hilarious and brand-new musical production.

When the citizens of Bikini Bottom discover that a volcano will soon erupt and destroy their humble home, SpongeBob and his friends must come together to save their undersea world.

With lives hanging in the balance and all hope lost, a most unexpected hero rises up. The power of optimism really can save the world!

Based on the series by Stephen Hillenburg, The SpongeBob Musical is written by Kyle Jarrow and conceived by Tina Landau.

Starring Ru-Paul’s Drag Race legend Divina De Campo, The SpongeBob Musical is written by Kyle Jarrow and conceived by Tina Landau.

It features a tidal wave of original songs by the world’s most iconic rock and pop artists, including Yolanda Adams, Steven Tyler and Joe Perry of Aerosmith, Sara Bareilles, Jonathan Coulton, Alex Ebert of Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeros, The Flaming Lips, Lady A, Cyndi Lauper, John Legend, Panic! At the Disco, Plain White T’s, They Might Be Giants and T.I., and songs by David Bowie, Tom Kenny and Andy Paley. Additional lyrics by Jonathan Coulton. Additional music by Tom Kitt.

An exciting new production featuring irresistible characters, magical choreography and dazzling costumes; this deep-sea pearl of a show is set to make a splash with audiences young and old.

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