THE SPONGEBOB MUSICALBroadway at the Bass
Book by: Kyle Jarrow
Original Songs by: Yolanda Adams, Steven Tyler and Joe Perry of Aerosmith, Sara Bareilles, Jonathan Coulton, Alex Ebert of Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeroes, The Flaming Lips, Lady Antebellum, Cyndi Lauper & Rob Hyman, John Legend, Panic! At the Disco, Plain White T’s, They Might Be Giants, T.I., Domani & Lil’C
And songs by: David Bowie & Brian Eno, Tom Kenny & Andy Paley,
Additional Lyrics by: Jonathan Coulton, and Music by: Tom Kitt
Based on the Series by Stephen Hillenburg
Bass Hall, Fort Worth
Music Supervision—Julie McBride and Timothy Hanson
Music Director—Patrick Hoagland
Scenic Designer – David Zinn
Lighting Designer—Kevin Adams
Sound Designer – Walter Trarbach
Costume Designer – David Zinn
Projection Designer—Peter Nigrini
Make-Up Designer—Joe Dulude II
Hair and Wig Design—Charles G. LaPointe
CAST (in reviewed performance)
SpongeBob SquarePants—Lorenzo Pugliese
Patrick Star—Beau Bradshaw
Squidward Q. Tentacles—Cody Cooley
Sandy Cheeks—Daria Pilar Redus
Eugene Krabs—Zach Kononov
Sheldon Plankton—Tristan McIntyre
Patchy the Pirate—Morgan Blanchard
Security Guards—Meami Maszewski, Stephen C. Kallas
Karen the Computer—Caitlin Ort
The Mayor—Helen Regula
Mrs. Puff—Natalie L.Chapman
Larry the Lobster—Teddy Gales
Old Man Jenkins—Stephen C. Kallas
Pearl Krabs—Meami Maszewki
Perch Perkins—Richie Dupkin
Plankton Dancers—Morgan Blanchard, Elle-May Patterson, Sydney Simone, Rico Velazquez
Sardine Corps—Morgan Blanchard, Nya Noemi, Elle-May Patterson, Sydney Simone, Rico Velazquez
The Electric Skates—Joshua Bess, Stefan Miller, Miles Davis Tillman
French Narrator—Kenneth Ferrone
Foley Fish—Ryan Blihovde
A vast array of undersea creatures—Joshua Bess, Morgan Blanchard, John Cardenas, Natalie L. Chapman, Teddy Gales, Stephen C. Kallas, Stefan Miller, Nya Noemi, Mary Nickson, Dorian O’Brien, Elle-May Patterson, Helen Regula, Sydney Simone, Miles Davis Tillman, Rico Velazquez
Reviewed Performance: 2/20/2020
Reviewed by Genevieve Croft , Associate Critic for John Garcia's THE COLUMN
SpongeBob SquarePants debuted on Nickelodeon in 1999, and has been running continuously ever since. Although SpongeBob was a little after my time, I have come to know the characters and the storyline through my 9 year-old son, which has taught me that the nuance and comedy of the series appeals to audiences of all ages. There have been many times that I have watched the show, and thought “how could that be funny to kids?”-I am sure that it would go over their heads. I cannot lie. When I first heard about this production in 2017, I will be the first to admit that I rolled my eyes. Then, I saw a performance of “I am Not a Loser” on the Tony Awards that year, and I was immediately hooked. First impressions can certainly be deceiving. The audience reaction last night was definitely the opposite. The audience (comprised of all ages) allows SpongeBob appeal to the young, and the young at heart. All of the characters are there- from the money-grubbing Mr. Krabs and teenage daughter Pearl, to the evil Sheldon Plankton (owner of rival Bikini Bottom restaurant, The Chum Bucket) and Karen the Computer. It was truly a lively and entertaining evening of entertainment.
The story starts out an ordinary day in Bikini Bottom. SpongeBob sings about how great life is-with his pet, Gary the Snail, his B.F.F. Patrick Star, and friend, land mammal Squirrel, also scientist, Sandy Cheeks. We are also introduced to SpongeBob’s boss at the Krusty Krab, Mr. Krabs and arch nemesis, Plankton, owner and proprietor of The Chum Bucket. It seems like it is going to be a great day, until the residents of Bikini Bottom learn that doomsday is lurking. Nearby, Mount Humongous is close to erupting, and everyone will die unless they raise enough money for a safety pod. Squidward Q. Tentacles is appointed organizer of a local benefit concert in the hopes of raising money and SpongeBob, Patrick and Sandy Cheeks set out to save the town. Of course, the plot is not all innocent. Elements of acceptance, being your own person, and belief in yourself is thrown into the mix-as with any musical theatre piece. (You simply cannot have a musical theatre piece without social issues!) SpongeBob and friends seek to find their place in the world, while dealing with many issues that contemporary society faces on a daily basis.
Director Tina Landau was successfully able to bring the wacky array of characters to life on stage. It is evident that the cast worked well together, and collaborated with a very creative crew who clearly took their jobs seriously-while having a great deal of fun. From the scenic designs to the extensive use of animated projections, and the amount of colorful costumes and lighting, the crew was successfully able to re-create the world of SpongeBob-under the sea and all. From the moment the production began, audiences were drawn into the world of Bikini Bottom-even being serenaded in the pre-show by an ensemble of musicians (who appeared to have a fantastic time on stage) playing the ukulele, bongos, guitar, and toy blow trumpets to help set the mood of the tropical paradise. Even Patchy the Pirate makes an appearance or two in the Pre-Show and Intermission as the “President of the SpongeBob Fan Club,” interacting with the audience, and parodying the contribution that SpongeBob has had on popular culture in society. This production is truly an excellent example of immersion theatre.
With an almost full house, the production was colorful, bright, loud, and full of energy on Thursday night on the stage at Bass Hall. Overall, the production concept seemed to be more of a “SpongeBob Experience-Live,” with flying beach balls in the audience, bubbles, and a live percussive musician on stage creating the sounds of the underwater atmosphere (SpongeBob’s spongy squeaks, and water sounds). I loved the interaction that SpongeBob had with the percussive musician and the Conductor in the Orchestra Pit-tossing Props and other items to him as the story went on. It was truly enjoyable to watch. I had a smile on my face the entire production. This production is one that should not be taken too seriously, as the entire performance is chock full of puns, references, and other elements of light humor. Sometimes, this is exactly what audiences need-an escape from reality, and a journey into the imaginary and extraordinary.
One of the most accomplished elements of this production was its phenomenal use of puppetry throughout the performance. From the tiny suggestion of Plankton to the tap-dancing sea anemone forming a chorus line with Squidward-the creative and inventive use of puppetry helped to suggest other characters from the series. One of the best uses of puppetry was an item that was a part of Squidward’s costume. How would one go about giving Squidward another pair of legs as suggested in the series? Seems simple when creating it with paint and ink on television. But, how to create for alive effect? Costume designer David Zinn had the solution. Another set of legs was added to Squidward’s pants that moved very precisely with his real legs. From tap-dancing to his humorous walk, this was probably one of the best moments of the production for me. All in all, the puppetry brought a child-like essence to the production, but, was also highly advanced in creation. It further created the universe of Bikini Bottom for me. Bravo!
Set Designer David Zinn successfully transformed the grand proscenium stage into multiple locations with simplicity and ease. It was enjoyable to see so many locations in the story conveyed with accuracy. Bikini Bottom is one of those fictional locations that must be handled with exact detail, or audiences will be immediately taken out of the moment. Mr. Zinn executed the overall design with great preciseness, and utilized many elements of color and texture. It was definitely an underwater escape for me!
Collaborating with Zinn, was Peter Nigrini on the projection design. While a technical element in its own right, projections are used to enhance the special effects of the production, Nigrini’s work further created the setting of the locale. The projections worked well with the scenic design and the costumes-further sealing the deal for me. I was amused and entertained by the projection of Mount Humongous in the climax of the story. The animations were excellently designed, and provided more of the humor of the story. I was absolutely awe-struck by the animated fish under the sea early on in the production.
The transitions from location to location were seamless. It was almost as if each act was one large scene. There was never a moment that I was taken out of the moment of the story. The production moved as quickly as an episode of the half-hour sitcom, further keeping the suggestion that this was merely a live version of any SpongeBob episode.
Lighting was designed by Kevin Adams. Adams did a fantastic job plotting lighting that was appropriate for each scene and mood. The lighting was lively, energetic and colorful. It truly was visually pleasing. Through the performance, Adams’ cuing to enhance each scene was spot on. It was amazing to see the effect of lights, and what they can do to an audience. Throughout the crowd, I heard many oohs and ahhs” as the lights would capture the message of the scene and musical number, while paying the appropriate homage to the original series. It is most apparent that Adams devoted a lot of time, effort and talent in the lighting of this production. The lighting complimented each scene and musical number in the production, and was fun to watch,
David Zinn also functioned as the costume designer. Zinn designed costumes that were not only very appropriate to the animated cartoon, but, carried the appropriate level of silliness to each character. The colors used were bright, sparkling, and very inviting to each character. There were some fun fabrics used in each characters’ wardrobe, and provided another layer of texture and dynamic to such a colorfully designed and lit set. The use of wigs and make-up (designed by Charles G. LaPointe and Joe Dulude II) also played a spectacular part in the creation of these former two-dimensional characters. Overall, costumes were stunning.
Lorenzo Pugliese was incredibly believable in the role of SpongeBob. Through facial expressions, body language, and even voice that rivaled even the work of original SpongeBob voice talent, Tom Kenny, Pugliese brought humor and a gymnastic talent that would rival any gymnast in the Olympics. Mr. Pugliese was able to contort his body in a very animated way-certainly convincing me that I was watching the animated SpongeBob. Pugliese was full of energy, charisma and on-stage enthusiasm. I can only imagine how much fun he is having in this role. He makes it look effortless and amusing.
Patrick was played phenomenally by Beau Bradshaw. Mr. Bradshaw had some funny moments, and though Patrick was full of good ideas, he never really showed his ability to be a leader until he is discovered by an interesting group of followers. One of the best musical numbers was ‘B.F.F.’( by the Plain White T’s). It was a funny, and touching musical number that eloquently described SpongeBob and Patrick’s relationship. It is sure to be a popular song for children and modern musical theatre aficionados for years to come.
Daria Pilar Rednus brought down the house as Sandy Cheeks, the super smart scientific squirrel who devises a plan along with her friends, SpongeBob and Patrick to stop Mount Humongous which according to her is “as serious as a taco shortage in Texas!” Sandy creates the perfect solution, the “errupter interrupter” and sets off to save Bikini Bottom. Ms. Rednus was full of energy, and had a phenomenal voice. Never have you wanted a Squirrel to win so badly at acceptance. Notable musical numbers included “Hero is My Middle Name” (by: Cyndi Lauper and Rob Hyman) and “Chop to the Top” (by: Lady Antebellum.)
By far, the best performance of the evening was Cody Cooley as Squidward Q. Tentacles. Mr. Cooley nailed the role of Squidward. From his funny and elastic facial expressions, and humorous body movements, Mr. Cooley totally sealed the deal for me as the character who was definitely “so NOT a LOSER,” as he was taunted in 3rd grade-plaguing him for his entire life. The showstopper was “I’m Not a Loser,” complete with his tap-dancing solo, and Busby Berkley tribute with the Sea Anemone Chorus Dancers. I was laughing so hard, I could hardly breathe. Bravo, Mr. Cooley!
This production of The SpongeBob Musical is definitely worth seeing. The attention to detail evident in all aspects of this production makes for an entertaining and fun theatrical experience. From the moment the music begins, you will be swimming in the world of Bikini Bottom, with SpongeBob and friends. With it’s fantastic musical score (written by some of the greatest modern music contributors of our time), laughs, and fantasy, The SpongeBob Musical will give you the much needed break from reality, and give you one of the “Best Days Ever!” Hurry, time is very limited on this production of The SpongeBob Musical, then the ship sets sail.
Broadway at the Bass
Bass Performance Hall
4th and Calhoun Streets
Fort Worth, Texas 76102
Plays through February 23, 2020.
Feb 21, 2020, 8:00 pm
Feb 22, 2020, 10:00 am
Feb 22, 2020, 3:00 pm
Feb 22, 2020, 8:00 pm
Feb 23, 2020, 1:30 pm
Feb 23, 2020, 6:30 pm
Ticket prices range from $44.00-$94.00, based on day and seating.
For more information, or to purchase tickets visit http://www.basshall.com, or call the box office at 817-212-4280, or toll free at 1-877-212-4280.